Carmelo Anthony is coming off his best regular season as a pro, which will mean absolutely nothing if he can't convert it to postseason success.
He's been out of the first round only once, and it's a huge, noticeable blemish on his resume.
But Melo has a good chance this year at clearing up that blemish. Or at least diminishing its presence.
The Knicks have been rolling as of late. Winners of 16 of their last 18 games, Anthony is also fresh off his first scoring title while leading New York to a No. 2 seed in East.
So how does he sustain this momentum, both individually and from a team perspective?
There are two major areas that Anthony must concentrate on in order to dodge any bullets and keep the ball rolling.
The Celtics have now had time to prepare for Melo and the Knicks, and there aren't many better in the preparation department than Celtics head coach Doc Rivers.
Boston, and any other team New York might eventually face this postseason, is going to find a way to make Anthony uncomfortable. Rivers is too smart to let Melo find a rhythm and go to work without have to jump through flaming hoops.
Mid-game adjustments are usually handled by the coach, but Anthony's recognition and ability to counter will ultimately decide just how successful the Knicks offense will be.
With Amar'e Stoudemire out, the Knicks' No. 2 option has been—and will continue to be—J.R. Smith. And you can be sure that Boston will be much more willing to let Smith take the shots than have Melo tee off and find his zone.
The Celtics are likely to force Smith, Raymond Felton and other unproven guys like Chris Copeland and Iman Shumpert to make some open shots. And if that's the case, Anthony will have to let it happen.
This can't be Anthony or bust. Melo is at his worst when he feels that he's the only one capable of pulling his team to victory. This brings us to the other hurdle for Melo to leap over, but it's one that has seemed a lot lower for him during the 2012-13 regular season.
Trusting His Teammates
If defenses start taking away Anthony's looks, that means shots will be available for his teammates. When the Knicks are at their best, Melo is scoring within the rhythm and flow of the offense. He can still get off 20-plus shots with the ball constantly moving.
Anthony has to keep his cool and remain relatively patient. Melo versus the world is when his low-percentage style of offense gets exposed and the team's shot selection falls apart.
Regardless of whether or not his supporting cast is strong enough to challenge the Heat in the East, the Knicks won't succeed without using them anyway.
New York is going to need 30 from Anthony on a routine basis, but it's how he gets them that will determine the team's success. He needs to remain efficient, alert and willing.
And if there was ever a year for Anthony to maximize his strengths, adopt these rules and apply them in the playoffs, it seems like this year is it.
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