Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past two months, you know that Dirk Nowitzki has been Dallas’ closer and superhero for this entire playoffs. After last night’s performance, he proved that he fully and rightfully deserves the Finals MVP if Dallas so wins the championship.
While Nowitzki is the superstar that has led the team, Tyson Chandler has quietly been driving away as a huge factor for the Dallas Mavericks. Until last night, it seemed that almost nobody had noticed.
Chandler clearly had a big night as he pulled down 16 boards and put up 13 points. While big statistics, take a look at one key statistic from this past game.
Chandler put in 43 minutes of play into Game Four of the NBA Finals.
It was easily the most amount of minutes put in by any Dallas players last night and was actually the most minutes any Dallas player had put into a single game all series.
Because of Chandler’s defensive skills, he has arguably been the key factor as to why Dallas made it to the Finals. He’s been a big reason as to why Miami has yet to reach more than 93 points in this series and he’s doing something more amazing: He’s putting in 38.75 minutes a game during the Finals, almost a full quarter more than his regular season minutes.
With injuries to backup Brendan Haywood and the incompetencies of Ian Mahinmi, Dallas has only one true option at the center position. Chandler has been more than capable of being able to put in a high amount of quality minutes against a physical Miami Heat team.
When Chandler plays, Dallas has an edge in the rebounding game. Chandler averaged 9.4 rebounds during the regular season and has come close to averaging the same in the playoffs. He creates second shots for the Mavs on offense and stops the Heat from getting second looks on defense.
Speaking of defense, when Chandler is on the floor, Dallas’ defense becomes exponentially better because Chandler creates a defensive presence in the paint. Chandler is the anchor of coach Rick Carlisle’s zone defense and is essentially the defensive captain for the Mavericks.
When Chandler to continually plays at his caliber of defense, LeBron James and other Miami stars are forced to settle for more jump shots. When this defense is executed properly, results happen, such as when James couldn’t get into double-digits in points in Game Four. Chandler’s defense has been strong through this series and will need to be in order for the Mavs to win.
Dirk will continually get the ball in the final minutes and will always lead the Mavs in scoring. But as long as Chandler puts in the amount of minutes he is, Chandler should be recognized as Dallas’ unsung hero.