New York should have beaten Indiana. The Knicks had the deeper roster, more experience and the best player on the court in Carmelo Anthony. While the outcome of this series can be largely attributed to the Knicks’ offensive struggles, a great deal of praise needs to be given to the Pacers team that outhustled, outworked and outplayed New York.
Lance Stephenson and Paul George are emerging as stars for Frank Vogel’s team, but the Knicks already have a bona-fide superstar. Roy Hibbert abused Tyson Chandler on the low block all series, but Chandler came into this season as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. J.R. Smith, the 2012-13 Sixth Man of the Year, shot 28.9 percent from the field in the Eastern Conference semifinals, while D.J. Augustin came off the bench and averaged 8.2 points per game on 50 percent shooting.
There is no excuse for losing this series, and it’s going to be a long offseason filled with questions for Mike Woodson and the Knicks. However, while the team came up shorter than it wanted to in the postseason, New York had a phenomenal season overall.
With battle-tested veterans like Jason Kidd and older rookies like Chris Copeland (28 years old) and Pablo Prigioni (37 years old), the Knicks had the oldest roster in NBA history. Woodson never got the chance to work with a full squad as injuries decimated the team at nearly every position. The team rose together, and now they have fallen together—no one person is to blame for their success or their failure.
Looking back on it, New York really did have an amazing season. Here are some of the best moments of 2012-13 for the Knicks.
“The Knicks are too old.” “Carmelo will never be good enough.” “Melo can’t beat LeBron.”
These are things that the Knicks heard on an endless loop going into the opening night of the regular season. The team was taking on LeBron James and the reigning champion Miami Heat in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the East Coast, and didn’t back down one bit.
In short, the Knicks smacked the Heat in the mouth, 104-84.
Anthony led the way with 30 points and 10 rebounds as the team proved to the rest of the league that they would not be intimidated by Miami, or any other team for that matter. The Knicks went on to go 3-1 against the Heat in 2012-13.
Coming into this season, you could count on J.R. Smith for a few things: some highlight dunks, boneheaded plays and a lack of dedication to winning. In his first full season playing for Mike Woodson, though, Smith had a change of heart and had his best personal season of his entire career.
His 18.1 points and 5.3 rebounds per game were career highs, and because of his tremendous season, Smith won the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award.
Smith’s performance in the postseason, which was horrendous, will probably be the taste left in the mouths of Knicks fans, but what he did during the regular season was award-winning.
On April 2, Carmelo Anthony gave the NBA one of the most masterful shooting performances in the league’s history.
Anthony, who eventually went on to win the scoring crown with 28.7 points per game, dropped 50 points on 18-of-26 shooting (none of his shots were layups) in a win over the Miami Heat. Melo then followed that game with performances of 40, 41 and three consecutive games with 36 points.
Despite averaging 36.9 points per game in April and 28.8 in the postseason, Anthony couldn’t lift the Knicks past the second round. However, this season he solidified himself as the undisputed best scorer in the NBA.
Chris Copeland will have a bigger role with the Knicks, or another team, next season. The 28-year-old rookie who was signed from a team in Belgium became not only a fan favorite this season, but also a quality NBA player.
Copeland came onto the Knicks with one NBA-ready skill: scoring. He and Coach Woodson have clashed over his defense this season, but he has improved significantly for a young player learning on the job. As a starter, Copeland gave the Knicks 16.1 points per game and did all he could to salvage the series against the Pacers once he was actually given serious minutes.
Copeland become almost a folk hero kind of player for the Knicks and proved to be worth more than the rookie’s minimum salary this season.
Iman Shumpert had a tremendous rookie campaign for the Knicks in the 2011-12 season after being selected by New York in the first round of the draft. He averaged nearly 10 points per game but tore his ACL against the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.
Shumpert returned to the court on January 17 and has started every game since he’s been back.
The 22-year-old guard, the youngest player on the Knicks, blossomed into a rising star throughout this season’s playoffs, as well. He gave the Knicks 9.3 points and six rebounds per game throughout the postseason and threw down one of the best dunks of year against the Pacers in Game 2.
Carmelo Anthony deserves a championship. Despite the fact that Melo did everything humanly possible for his Knicks this season, he ultimately came up short in leading the team to a title.
Nonetheless, Anthony was sensational in 2012-13. He won the NBA scoring crown, leading the league with 28.7 points per game, and posted the third best rebounding campaign of his nine-year career with 6.9 boards per game.
Anthony will be surrounded with several new teammates next season, but that will not quiet his never-ending hunger for a championship. Look for Anthony to have another MVP-caliber season in 2013-14.