BY SAMUEL LACHOW
Since losing Brook Lopez to a foot injury, Garnett has thrived as Nets center. Garnett’s put up 13 points against the Warriors, 12 points against the Heat and 12 points against the Hawks in his last three games, all against playoff teams. In his last five games Garnett is averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds, both above his season averages of 7 points and 6 rebounds per game.
On the other side the Knickerbockers will be starting an injury-plagued Tyson Chandler. Chandler did not play in the first meeting between the Nets and Knicks this year, when the Knicks beat the Nets by 30 points. Chandler is averaging just 8 points per game, his lowest average since the 2009-2010 season, while his rebounding numbers have dipped to just 7.9 per game, a low since the 2009-2010 season.
His shooting percentage is also down to just 54.5 percent, which is far lower than his mid-60s shooting from these past few years. Still, Chandler has been unanimously anointed the heart and soul of the New York Knicks. His on the court screaming after a put-back dunk and his off the court yelling at his teammates gets the entire Knicks faithful pumped up.
At this point in their careers, both are essential for defense and energy. Though Garnett is older and an ex-offensive force, both have similar roles.
For the Nets, it’s essential that Garnett finds his stroke, forcing Chandler to play tighter on him. Though Garnett is an elder in this league he can still beat Chandler off the dribble, which could force Chandler into foul trouble.
On the other side, Garnett must box out Chandler so that he does not swat the ball back to the Knicks guards after a missed Knicks shot. Chandler gets his baskets solely from put back dunks and pick and rolls, but expect Garnett to come at Chandler leading to early foul trouble. Chandler has to hope that Garnett’s aged body will be tired following two seven-hour plane rides to and from London.
Garnett has big games against the Knicks; In 42 career games he averages 18 points and 11 rebounds per game. KG understands how important this game is so look for him to come up big, most notably in the first and fourth quarter. I expect Garnett to put up 12 points and 10 rebounds tonight.