Carmelo Anthony had a tremendous 2012-2013 regular season, perhaps the best one of his career – a league-leading 28.7 ppg, a career-best 37 percent on 3-pointers, and for his efforts, he even got a first-place MVP vote! His teammates – specifically the NBA’s Top 6th man, JR Smith and first-team All-defense center Tyson Chandler – helped the Knicks to the No. 2 seed in the East and the most wins (54) the franchise has had since the halcyon days of Patrick Ewing, John Starks, Larry Johnson and Jeff Van Gundy.
But in this year’s playoffs, Carmelo Anthony has been atrocious.
Shooting? Just 39.1 percent from the field, down from the regular season (44.9). Three-pointers? Just 30 percent, way down from the 37.9 in the regular season. Assists? Down too, from 2.6 in the regular season to 1.7 in the playoffs. (He’s got 25 turnovers against 17 assists in 10 playoff games). So Melo is taking more shots than usual (25 a night), missing more than he did during the season and passing less. It’s been a rough postseason for the 7th highest paid player in the NBA. I’m just waiting for the “tired from the Olympics” excuse.
Yet when I turn on the radio or TV or surf the web, he’s somehow escaping blame for New York being down 3-1. Yes, injuries have been a factor. Shumpert is banged up. Felton hasn’t been 100% at times. Novak has attempted just three shots in four games against Indiana due to injuries. Amare is only playing a handful of minutes returning from injury. Rasheed Wallace, hit-and-miss during the season, has retired due to injury.
Those teammates who were valuable pieces during the season? Less so now. Smith – who has owned it, at least – looks petrified on the perimeter, mired in a funk which has him looking completely unsure if he should shoot or pass or drive. Chandler, at times, has been abused by Roy Hibbert in this series.
But still, I don’t see how this failure can be blamed on anyone but Carmelo Anthony. No, he’s not LeBron, but last year when LeBron’s Heat were down 2-1 to Indiana, he went on the road and hung 40-18-9 on the Pacers. At no point did Anthony come remotely close to taking over Game 4. At best, you could credit him with keeping the Knicks from getting blown out at times in the 2nd and 3rd quarter. Melo can’t score on Paul George (31 percent shooting while being defended by him), he’s not commanding double-teams in the paint – though Indy has done a great job crowding him around the elbow – and with the exception of one quarter in Game Two, he really hasn’t looked like the dominant player he was in the regular season.
So let me get this straight – Melo gets all the accolades during the regular season when he dominates, but when the Knicks falter, it’s now on the empty chair of a coach who has never accomplished anything and who everyone knows is 2nd in command to Melo?
Carmelo Anthony still believes the Knicks “can do something special.” Three wins in a row right now would certainly qualify.