GAME ONE FINAL
NEW YORK KNICKS -
The League's scoring champ did what the playoffs demand. That's why Carmelo gets a bad rap - because the regular season is all about System. In the playoffs, you need stars to rise up, and supporting players who know, and execute their roles. When you consider the list of players who under-performed around Carmelo Anthony Saturday afternoon, then you know why the game was a two point affair with just a few minutes left. Think about it - In twenty-two minutes, Iman Shumpert scored three points. Tyson Chandler scored no points in twenty minutes. Ditto with Chris Copeland - thirteen minutes, no points. And those were the starters. Jason Kidd played thirty-five minutes (!) with eight points off the bench. Steve Novack was a non-factor.
Now for the big contributors. Ray Felton played forty-three minutes and scored thirteen points, which is respectable considering his six assists. And make no mistake, Kenyon Martin's ten points in twenty-eight minutes were huge, as was the way Kenyon Martin shut down he paint. And there in lies the game - tenacious defense. Tenacious team defense put Carmelo Anthony in a position to lead the rest of his mates to an 85-78 game one victory. Forget Melo's first quarter. It was good. Melo's last two minutes stand tallest. That's when most of the appreciable TV audience tunes in anyway, right?
Show me. And Melo did. He scored a game high thirty-eight points - twelve more than Boston's perennial thirteen point scorer, Jeff Green. Think about that too. Melo had one assist in the game. It was huge, a hot pass to Kenyon Martin who converted. He also had six rebounds, all on the defensive boards. Lastly, Carmelo Anthony had four steals.
Defense. It was the kind of defense the Knicks played back in November, if not better. And Melo was a clear participant. It needed to be that way, because no one wanted to score.
J.R. SMITH WINS NBA'S SIXTH-MAN AWARD
This season, J.R. Smith has teamed with Carmelo to form one of the more lethal duo's in basketball. In game one, he scored fifteen points in thirty-two minutes. With those minutes, he is no bench player. In any event, I think Knicks fans sense a huge game coming from him shortly. Carmelo Anthony will need the help.
Would this series be viewed differently if Jajon Rondo hadn't gotten hurt? Definitely. Felton and Kidd would be getting treatment on their ankles as we speak. Until Kevin Garnett shows up, Melo and Smith look like they got this covered. After game two, it's off to Boston. That's when the really series starts.