There's a lot of pressure for Carmelo Anthony to score with J.R. Smith's recent struggles.
New York Knicks fans should be nervous about Carmelo Anthony’s play in Game 4 against the Indiana Pacers.
It’s been a tale of two Melos so far this series.
In the Knicks’ Game 2 win over the Pacers, Anthony scored 32 points on 50 percent shooting from the field.
That shooting percentage was his best this postseason, and it was buoyed by a strong finish to the game. Anthony had 16 points after New York was trailing 64-62 late in the third (via Newsday), and they ended up snatching victory 105-79.
In a low-scoring Game 3 loss, Anthony only took three shots in the fourth quarter (according to the NY Daily News). Head coach Mike Woodson was “not OK” with it, though he also doesn’t “want it to be a one-man show."
Like it or not, face the facts: Carmelo Anthony is a one-man show. He had the most field-goal attempts per game in the regular season (22.2; second place was 20.4) and has even more in the postseason (25.6; second place is 22.5).
Anthony’s style of play is one possible explanation for why he and Amar’e Stoudemire struggled to play well together at first. It also explains why Jeremy Lin and Anthony couldn’t coexist.
Although Melo sometimes chucks up ill-advised shots, especially in isos, you can’t really blame him right now. With Stoudemire limited and J.R. Smith in a slump, there aren’t a lot of scoring options for New York.
So if Game 4 is close, Anthony will be shooting. Regardless of how many shots he takes, he’ll score closer to his Game 3 output than his Game 2 output.
One reason for that is the Pacers’ defense. Indiana allowed the second-fewest points per game in the NBA during the regular season. They also had the best field-goal percentage allowed, a meager 42 percent.
On the road in the postseason, Indiana will tighten the clamps even more.
Another reason Carmelo will struggle at the end of the game is the way he scores. Though he averages the most points per 100 possessions this postseason (via NBA.com), only 7.1 of his points are in the paint.
Without scoring in the paint, Anthony has to settle for lower-percentage shots. That leads to less-clutch scoring. NBA.com’s regular-season stats show Melo as the 13th-best scorer in the last five minutes of a game, and the 26th-best scorer in the last two minutes.
Anthony’s late scoring in Game 2 was really more of an aberration. Expect the Pacers to shut him down late and the Knicks to return home down 3-1.
*All unattributed statistics courtesy of ESPN.com.