The Mavericks temporarily got out of their funk with a 101-73 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday. Tyson Chandler was a major factor with his seven point, 18 rebound performance in the game. One of the biggest factors in the game was the fact that he ended the game with only two fouls. If you look at the previous three games against bigger opponents (Los Angeles Lakers, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs), Chandler struggled in those games because fouls eventually ruined any momentum he could have built. He averaged 6.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.0 fouls in those three games. Those numbers definitely do not resemble his season averages of 10.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 3.2 fouls.
Chandler is a player driven off of emotion and energy. Those two characteristics make him the special player that he is. Unfortunately, there is bad that comes with the good and the emotions can get the best of him. He's had situations where he has been frustrated with foul calls and they have led to whistles directed at him in bunches. When Chandler is not on the court, the dynamics for the Mavericks radically change.
We have seen it over the course of the season; Chandler's abilities on both ends of the floor can dramatically make the Mavericks better. His ability to make the opposing defense pay with alley-oops gives the Mavs easy baskets which go a long way in closely contested games. The big man's ability to be a force on the board really helps the Mavericks collect extra possessions or end defensive stands. Whether he's bring it on offense or defense, it all starts with avoiding early foul trouble so he can build his rhythm in the game early and hit the ground running. "It makes my job a lot easier," Chandler said. "I can do what I naturally am capable of doing and that's roaming, challenging shots and cleaning up the glass."
When things are going aren't going right like they were against the Lakers, Trail Blazers and Spurs, it tends leave a lasting effect on the big man. "When you have nights like that you're not supposed to let it carry over," Chandler said. "It's easy to say, but I'm an emotional guy and I take things personal. When we have nights like that I'm up until four or five in the morning just staring at the ceiling." Based on the way the Mavericks performed during that stretch of three games in seven days against top-level competition, Chandler had a hard time sleeping.
"I am concerned on the one hand. On the other (Chandler's) an aggressive player and you can't take away his aggressive nature," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said prior to the game against the Golden State Warriors. "Foul trouble is going to take a guy out of a game so it's important to avoid that situation when he can," Carlisle said. "We need him to be aggressive, but have discretion and we need him on the floor." Carlisle also mentioned that Chandler meets with him and reviews film to discuss things that could be tweaked to help avoid unnecessary fouls. Carlisle also wants to make sure to avoid keeping Chandler in the game for extended periods of time to avoid fouls simply based on fatigue.
The dominant low post players, as we knew them in the past, are considered a dying breed. The problem is that teams like the Lakers and the Spurs have players of that nature and they pose a major threat to the Mavericks. That is why the Mavericks have loaded up at the center position with guys like Tyson Chandler, Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi. Having those three centers will be huge for the Mavericks, but they will ultimately need everything Chandler has in order to go up against those big opponents. "That's what this team needs from me," Chandler said. "The last three or four games I felt like I really wasn't myself out there. I think I got so caught up in the way things were going as a whole that I started letting it affect me personally and I can't let that happen. I got to continue to bring what I bring to the team and let the cards fall where they're going to fall."
Over previous seasons, Jason Terry was seen as the spiritual and emotional leader for the Mavs. It appears that Chandler has taken over that role and Terry can see how much Chandler brings to the team. "He's the key to our success," Jason Terry said when describing Tyson Chandler. "He's been that way all season long. When he's playing at a high level and his energy is up, it's hard to beat us." The big man takes those words seriously and wants to do whatever he can so he can avoid letting his teammates down. "That's why I take it so personally," Chandler said. "Talking about this last streak of games, I take it personal when my team's not playing well defensively, when we lose games. When we lose games and we're not playing well defensively, I lose sleep."
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