By Charles R. Trimble III – Knickswag Contributor
As I sat in section 221 with my son Saturday night, I just marveled at the recent play of former Knick killer Kenyon Martin who has been a godsend to the injury riddled Knickerbocker squad. As we serenaded him with “Ken-yon Mar-tin” chants I leaned over to my son and said, “I can’t wait to see the tandem of Chandler and Martin dominate in the paint”.
However, the good vibes of the evening soon turned to frustration when Coach Woodson mentioned during the postgame interview that, “playing Chandler and Martin as a tandem would be redundant, Tyson does the same thing as Kenyon.” WHAT??? It was startling to hear that a coach who was originally brought in as an assistant and then hired as head coach for his defensive acumen, was refusing to even consider starting his best defensive team out there in preparation of a physical Eastern Conference playoff run.
Now let’s give credit where credit is due, Woodson has done a good job this season, but has routinely shown a stubborn side when questioned about some of his more debatable decisions. Like Stoudemire’s minute restriction and overall use, rushing Rasheed Wallace back into the rotation so soon after his 2-yr hiatus, overplaying Jason Kidd and starting Shumpert out of position.
With the playoffs approaching I fear his reluctance to play Chandler and Martin together will hurt the Knicks chances of advancing. During the marathon NBA season, the mismatch that Carmelo Anthony can create at the PF position becomes more of a disadvantage when matched up in a series against a Chicago (Boozer & Gibson), Boston (Garnett & Bass), Indiana (West) and Brooklyn (Evans & Humphries). These are teams that can punish you with their size and physical play.
Martin, who stated after Saturday’s game, “I want people to know I can still play. I just don’t want this to be it” seems to be on his best behavior in an effort to secure a deal for next season. His desperation to remain in the league is the kind of desperation this team needs to play with for the rest of the season and into the playoffs!
The formula for playoff success is simple, defense and rebounding with timely scoring, it’s not brain surgery. Woodson knows more basketball than I will ever know, but one thing I am sure about is, a frontcourt of Chandler and Martin will give the Knicks their best shot to win. Their best shot to win the division, their best shot to advance and their best shot to compete against the World Champs, Miami Heat. Can the Knicks succeed in the playoffs with Carmelo at the PF position? Of course they could, but the question remains, why won’t a defensive coach favor a powerhouse defensive unit. Chandler has been a solo act on defense far too long, its time he was given a co-star!