Carmelo Anthony Must Play Through Injury for Knicks to Maintain Pace

Josh BenjaminCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2013

Feb 22, 2013; Toronto, ON, Canada; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during their game against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre. The Raptors beat the Knicks 100-98. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony's knee may be barking, but the New York Knicks are going to need him to play through the pain if they still plan to make a statement in the playoffs.

Anthony injured his knee in New York's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on March 4, and did not appear in the team's match with the Detroit Pistons on March 6. According to ESPN New York's Jared Zwerling, the six-time All-Star is "questionable" for tonight's game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There's only one way to say this. If the Knicks are going to maintain pace in the Eastern Conference and make some noise in the postseason, Anthony needs to play through the pain. Otherwise, there will be way too much uncertainty headed into the playoffs, thus setting fans up for disappointment once again.

Look at it this way. The Knicks are 4-4 without Anthony this season, and are 11-9 in games in which he has not played since joining the team via a trade in 2011.

That record is above .500, but consider that seven of those wins came during last year's "Linsanity" craze. I don't mean to put a damper on the happiness, but it's hard to say that positive stretch wasn't a fluke.

Granted, some may argue that letting Anthony rest his knee until he's back at 100 percent is more important to the team's overall performance this season, but let's take a look at the Knicks' remaining games, of which there are 24.

Of those 24, 16 are against teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today. Yes, 10 are against teams that are not exactly top-ranked playoff squads, but better that the Knicks enter each game with the mentality that a win is not guaranteed and must be earned.

More importantly, consider that the Knicks are fighting off the feisty Indiana Pacers for the No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference. If they play it conservative with Anthony's knee, that's essentially handing the position to the Pacers.

Just look at how New York performed against the Pistons without Anthony. This is a game the Knicks should have controlled from start to finish and were it not for a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter, they very likely would have lost.

Thus, one can see just how important Anthony is to the Knicks. This means that as much as it may hurt, he has to play through whatever pain his knee is causing him. The remaining games are just too critical and important for the Knicks to lose under any circumstances, and the rest of the squad cannot fill the void left by Anthony sitting on the bench.

If the Knicks are serious about winning a championship and Anthony is as well, then they'll see that their star is of no use on the bench and if he can play, even if not at 100 percent, then he'll suit up and help them maintain their current position in the Eastern Conference.