The Portland Trail Blazers-Dallas Mavericks playoffs may hinge on a single player and his impact on the game.
Dirk alluded to as much in December saying, “It’s just his overall willingness to defend. He talks out there. He’s always a loud communicator, pushing everybody in the right spots. I think that’s what Tyson brings to our team.”
The director of Dallas’ defense has left his imprint in the eight games against Portland this season if we know where to look and how to interpret it, little clues left behind.
In the first two playoff games against the Blazers, Dallas W’s, Chandler had two and four personal fouls, allowing him to be aggressive defensively, challenging shots and plays in the paint.
In the two subsequent losses, Chandler’s impact was neutralized by foul trouble, five fouls committed in Game 3 and he fouled out of Game 6 entirely.
The strategy of sterilizing Chandler on the floor can be found in all eight meetings between the Blazers and Mavs this season. In games versus Portland in which Chandler has four or less fouls, Dallas is 4-0. In games in which Chandler was whistled for five or more fouls, plus one game he didn’t play at all, Dallas is 0-4.
The man just makes a difference.
Especially in 4th quarters.
Need a late rebound? He can do that too. Among players in the playoffs, Chandler ranks fourth-best in the NBA at corralling a clutch board.
We knew Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry were clutch-time impact players, but Chandler’s residence among the best of the late-game changers flew under the radar as he lacks the gaudy numbers most feed on.
Game 1 +9, Fouls 2 Dallas W
Game 2 +5, Fouls 4 Dallas W
Game 3 -2, Fouls 5 Dallas L
Game 4 -13, Fouls 6 Dallas L
On the season, in Dallas’ four wins versus Portland Chandler is a net +15. In the four losses, of which Chandler in three, they are a net 0.
When Chandler isn’t on the floor for Dallas the only way Dirk, Terry, and Jason Kidd can win games is to make an attempt to outscore their opponents. The addition of Chandler to the lineup gives them something to lean on, let’s the Mavericks’ offense flow more freely, without pressure.
That in turn frees up Chandler on the offensive end as well; he averaged a career-best field goal percent this season at .654, a second-best 4.0 free throw attempts per-game, of which he hit on .723 percent of, as good as his best in his decade in the NBA.
The Mavs need Chandler to find a way to stay on the floor if they don’t want Mark Cuban dismantling the team in frustration this summer. They can’t get by the Blazers without him out there wreaking his brand of havoc.
You can follow Clint on Twitter at @Clintonite33
Subscribe to all the Shoot Hoops news and articles straight to your RSS reader.
Sign up and get all the Shoot Hoops news straight to your inbox.
Follow us on Twitter and get in-stream messages