The New York Knicks, with a 2-0 series lead, have a big opportunity to all but eliminate the Boston Celtics from the postseason in Game 3. In order to so and move closer to the next round, the Knicks need Carmelo Anthony to deliver a massive performance.
If the Knicks don't win this game, the door will open for the Celtics to come back in the series. Giving Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett the confidence to get back into this one would be terrible for the Knicks. It would put a ton of pressure on Game 4 on Sunday, April 28.
Rather than unnecessarily facing that pressure early in the postseason, the Knicks need to be preparing for a likely showdown with the Indiana Pacers in the second round.
Anthony has delivered during the first two games of the series. In Game 1, he scored 36 points, despite needing 29 field goals (13 makes) to get there. He followed up that performance with 34 points in Game 2 on 11-of-24 shooting.
Here is a look at Anthony's shot chart from the first two games:
While Anthony hasn't been lights out from the floor, he's combined to shoot 16-of-17 from the free-throw line. He's at his best when he's getting to the free-throw line and able to get his confidence going early in the game.
On the road in Boston, the Knicks will need Anthony to start consistent throughout the game. In his series, he's scored at least six points in each of the eight quarters. The balanced attack from Anthony has helped the Knicks win five of the eight quarters as well.
This season, the Knicks are going to go as far as Anthony takes them. They are heavily dependent on Anthony scoring points. As long as puts 30-plus on the board, it won't matter how well Anthony shoots from the floor.
Through the first two games, Anthony has recorded just two assists. Simply put, the Knicks just need Anthony to put the ball through the basket at any cost.
With that level of reliance on a streaky shooter, the Knicks can't afford to let this series come down to one do-or-die game. Given that scenario, an off-night from Anthony would be enough to end the Knicks season.
Anthony and the Knicks can't afford a letdown in Game 3. They need to take advantage of this opportunity and put their foot in the next round. With an old and aging team, the Knicks need to get through the playoffs with as few games as possible. If they want to have a realistic shot at beating the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks need to be well-rested heading into that series.