DALLAS -- All season the Dallas Mavericks, to a man, have revered center Tyson Chandler, calling him the definitive difference-maker, the anchor that makes the Mavs tougher defensively and allows them to exude more swagger than ever before.
If that is the case, is there cause for concern after Chandler sat out his second consecutive game with a sore lower back and his fifth game since March 4? Overall, Chandler, who missed three games in early March with a sprained ankle, has been a picture of health after his last two seasons were wrecked by ankle and toe injuries.
That's been great news for the Mavs because they're 3-5 when Chandler sits.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said Wednesday that he is optimistic Chandler will play Friday night against the Los Angeles Clippers. But, the question persists just how healthy Chandler is and will be?
The ankle sprain and the tailbone bruise he suffered last Saturday night are minor injuries, but are they nagging enough to affect Chandler's play with Game 1 of the playoffs just over a week away.
Carlisle said he is confident that Chandler will be as spry and effective as he was earlier this season.
"Yes, and I base it on the fact that the ankle and the toe have really caused no issues this year from the standpoint of his past surgery," Carlisle said. "He had one sprained ankle, which is something that happens. He was back really within a week, which was great. And in this case, this is a back contusion, you fall down and you hit your back."
Since March 1, Chandler has averaged 9.0 points and 8.8 rebounds, down slightly from his 10.2 and 9.3 averages, respectively. Chandler he wants back in as soon as possible because it's clear the Mavs, having lost four in a row, have some issues to clean up and fast.
"You want to have good momentum going into the playoffs. You want to feel good about yourself. You want to be on key," Chandler said. "We need to solve some things defensively and offensively. You want to have your full unit, have everybody out there to do so."