The play of Kenyon Martin has no doubt eased some of the sting of being without Tyson Chandler toward the tail-end of the season and during Game 1 against Boston. In fact, Mike Woodson opted to go with Martin down the stretch given the clear rust affecting Chandler, not literal rust, mind you, but rust nonetheless. As good as Martin has been, Tom Haberstroh of ESPN.com (ESPN Insider) notes that subbing Martin for Chandler in the Knicks’ most effective and highly used lineup (Felton, Kidd, Smith, Anthony) hasn’t been quite as effective on the defensive end:
But in the 45 minutes (small sample alert!) that we saw Martin sub in for Chandler in that lineup during the regular season? The defense fell apart at the seams, allowing 120.2 points per 100 possessions. That lineup held its own against the Celtics in Game 1, but the larger sample isn’t encouraging for the Knicks.
If Chandler can’t return to form for the Knicks, the issues may not bubble up until they face a tougher offense. The Celtics wield a jump-shooting frontcourt and a serious lack of penetrators who are less able to exploit Chandler’s immobility. The Celtics may have the brains but not the tools to take advantage. The same can’t be said for the two teams that could be waiting for them later on, the Indiana Pacers, who boast the 11th-ranked offense since the All-Star break, and the scoring machine that is the Miami Heat.
I mean, I think everyone concedes this point. The Knicks are getting much more than they ever could have hoped from Kenyon Martin, but that doesn’t mean everyone’s going all, “See! Who needs Chandler anyway?!?” I think everyone understands that even if they are able to sneak past Boston without getting much from Chandler, they are unlikely to make the type of deep playoff run we’re all hoping for if Tyson is unable to become something resembling the defensive force he’s been during his time in New York.
I don’t know, this sort of seems like the most obvious point in the world. Yes, Kenyon’s doing a great job, no, the Knicks would not be fine if Chandler can’t recover in the near future. Agreed? Agreed.