MIAMI – Tyson Chandler isn’t feeling 100 percent, but he does feel better than he did on Saturday, when he managed to play just 21 ineffective minutes in Game 1 of the first round series between the Knicks and Heat.
“I feel better,” Chandler said before the Knicks’ shootaround Monday morning. “I don’t feel 100 percent, but I feel better.”
The Knicks will take what they can get after getting manhandled on both ends of the floor in Game 1. Chandler is arguably their most important player, the anchor of their top-five defense. And if he’s more of a presence on that end, they have a puncher’s chance in Game 2 (7 p.m. ET, TNT).
“I’m going to give it everything I got,” Chandler said. “I’m going to leave it all on the floor. Hopefully, I’ll have more energy to get my team going.”
Baron Davis, who is suffering from back pain and stiffness, said he’s “not close” to 100 percent. But he’s hopeful that he can play more than the 17 minutes he logged on Saturday. He kept the Knicks in the game early with 10 first-quarter points.
“We’ll see what happens,” Davis said. “I’ll play as hard as I possibly can, just try and stay loose on the sidelines, and just be ready when called upon. I don’t know what my minutes will look like. Hopefully, I can get us off to a good start and really have no setbacks during the game.”
The Knicks will start Landry Fields at the two in place of Iman Shumpert. Fields’ offensive confidence has been an issue, but he is a strong defender who will make Dwyane Wade work.
Most important for the Knicks, however, is Chandler’s strength and energy. He was a huge factor in the Mavs’ win over the Heat in last year’s Finals, and the Heat are prepared for him to make an impact tonight.
“He’ll be a bigger factor tonight,” Erik Spoelstra said. “He only played 21 minutes and he’s a big key to what they do.”
And LeBron James made it clear that the Heat won’t relax with the Knicks banged up.
“We understand that guys are going to come in and fill voids,” he said. “We’re not a team to relax. We’re never in a relaxed mode.”