You know that saying, "Act like you've been here before"? Well Carmelo Anthony doesn't, because he hasn't.
He's been trapped in this bubble I like to refer to as "the first round." He escaped once, but he never got very far, and hasn't broke out since. Melo has been trying to open the same door for nine years but still can't figure out which way the knob turns.
One of the reasons Anthony struggles in the playoffs is because of his inability to adjust. And his inability to adjust stems from his lack of on-court maturity.
It appears as if Melo just expects and relies on his talent alone to carry him and his team. And that just doesn't work in a seven-game playoff series.
Anthony doesn't have a counter for adversity. With J.R. Smith out of the lineup, Melo's answer was to take it upon himself and hopefully make more shots. Every scorer and leader needs confidence, but Melo doesn't channel his appropriately.
One of the greatest compliments you can give an athlete is that they make their teammates better. That's one of LeBron James' most glowing qualities. Both low-profile reserves and high-profile stars want to play alongside him.
Something tells me Anthony doesn't have that effect on other players.
In Game 4 against Boston, Anthony missed 25 shots (10-of-35). LeBron James missed 22 shots total in the entire first round.
James has figured out that scoring isn't the only way he can personally help the team. Anthony's solution to every obstacle is putting on a cape and going into hero mode.
Melo either has to learn how to contribute when the defense takes away his looks or figure out how to score when his jumper isn't falling. Check out his shot charts from Games 4 and 5. He's been ineffective in back-to-back games without being able to connect from the perimeter.
Anthony is just too good for him to allow his jumper to dictate whether his team wins or loses.
And while Melo suffers from a lack of on-court discipline, he also struggles with off-court maturity as a leader.
LeBron James has gotten the hang of this whole "postseason" thing. To be frank, James had it all along, for the most part.
Despite leading a core consisting of Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Drew Gooden to the NBA Finals in just his fourth year in the league, we still gave James crap for not being able to close or get over the hump.
Over the years, James has picked up on what works and what doesn't. And he's sent whatever doesn't work straight to the lab.
James' preparation is exemplary. He seems laser focused. No Twitter, no headlines, no nonsense.
The Knicks are in the news after showing up in all black for Boston's "funeral," a gimmicky motivational tactic that seemed childish and frivolous. Do you think the Heat, a group who's "been here before," would pull a stunt like that? They wouldn't need to.
With Miami, you never have to wonder whether it will show up. Most of that has to do with James' command in the huddle. With the Knicks, fans have to cross their fingers hoping it's not going to be "one of those games."
New York is the No. 2 seed—the supposed only team in the East who can challenge Miami in a series. At this point, the premise of the new Will Smith movie seems more plausible than the thought of Anthony's Knicks upsetting James' Heat.
I hate to say it, but Anthony may never be on James' level as an NBA competitor. He's just missing that "grown man" quality that guys like James, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan have used to plow through adversity and take home a title.
Anthony's immaturity as a player has cost the Knicks games, but his immaturity as a leader could end up costing them the season.
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