Can Carmelo Anthony Carry His April Touch into Postseason?
Anthony erupted for a game-high 40 points, one night after blitzing the Miami Heat for a season-high 50.
He's now reached a whole new level of dynamic efficiency:
Carmelo Anthony has scored 90 POINTS on 66 percent shooting in his last two games. #KnicksTape— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) April 4, 2013
He hinted at an explosive performance early in the action versus Atlanta:
NBA (@NBA) April 3, 2013
Really, he's wasted no time establishing himself as the best player on the floor in the opening minutes of the past two games:
Carmelo Anthony in the 1st quarter of the last 2 games-- 30 points, 12-for-16 shooting, 4-5 from 3-point range— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) April 3, 2013
And those staggering shooting numbers have been anything but inflated.
On the season, Anthony has done a large chunk of his damage near the basket. More than one-third of his made field goals this season have come from within five feet of the basket (via NBA.com).
But he's built his staggering shooting numbers of the past 48 hours nearly entirely on jump shots. He's not settling for jumpers, but rather decisively entering his offensive moves before the defense has time to react.
While his past two efforts have seen the gaudiest point totals, Anthony has been scoring in droves since having his knee drained in early March. A sore knee cost him six games over an eight-game stretch, but he's poured in better than 31 points per game in the nine games since.
But his shooting percentages never mirrored the scoring numbers before these past two games. He topped the 50 percent mark just once in his last 17 games before this hyper-efficient shooting performance that produced a shot chart worthy of a wall hanging in between Van Gogh and Monet works.
It even drove ESPN's SportsNation to draw up a nostalgic look to attempt to gauge Anthony's scorching temperature of late:
SportsNation (@SportsNation) April 4, 2013
More importantly, his offensive outburst wasn't wasted. It's come during New York's season-defining stretch of 10 straight victories, a surge that now has landed the Knicks within two games of reaching the 50-win mark for the first time since the 1999-00 season.
That season was also the last time the Knicks found themselves on the winning end of a postseason series. In order to wipe away a decade-plus of futility, they'll undoubtedly need more of the same from the league's second-most prolific scorer (28.1 points per game).
His recent production suggests that won't be a problem, but there's no guarantee that his shooting touch can carry over to the postseason.
This isn't the first time Anthony has enjoyed a torrid stretch of basketball near season's end. He shredded his April 2012 opponents to the tune of 29.8 points per game on 49.5 percent shooting from the field (and 46.0 percent from three), via Basketball-Reference.com.
Can Anthony carry this over into the playoffs?
But while he couldn't carry that fiery touch into the postseason last year (41.9 percent from the field, just 22.2 percent from deep), he won't be facing the same caliber of defense this time around early on.
Anthony became the focal point of a Miami Heat defense that stifled opponents en route to the franchise's second NBA title. If the current standings hold true, he'll be dealing with a Boston Celtics team that has allowed 101.6 PPG over its last 10 outings.
If Anthony continues to attack before the defense can swarm him, he could cause us all to rethink what we've seen in these last two games.
They won't be isolated moments of greatness—they'll just be the first signs of a new, efficient, successful Anthony.
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