As the 2013 NBA Playoffs get ready to move into the second round, the postseason has something it hasn’t had in quite some time- a New York flavor.
Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks did something Friday night that fans in the Big Apple have been waiting 13 years to see. Despite watching a 26-point fourth quarter lead dwindle to four points, Anthony stepped up like superstars should by nailing a pullup jumper and then sinking a huge 3-pointer that all but ended the Celtics comeback attempt.
But as big as this series win was for the Knicks franchise, it was as equally important for Anthony as an individual.
Make no mistake about it, had the Knicks watched a 26-point fourth quarter lead evaporate and lost Game 6, this series was over.
Even though Game 7 was at Madison Square Garden, the Knick could have brought back the likes of Patrick Ewing, Willis Reed, Bernard King and other great Knicks through history and it wouldn’t have mattered. The Knicks were dangerously close to becoming the first team in NBA history to blow a 3-0 series lead.
But Anthony didn’t allow that to happen.
Before he drained his big fourth quarter three, ‘Melo was becoming ever so close to joining a list of New York post season failures.
He made missed his last 19 attempts from behind the arc at the time and thoughts of John Starks’ 2-of-18 Game 7 performance started creeping in. Anthony was close to joining the likes of the New York Yankees Alex Rodriguez in terms of postseason failures.
A-Rod never shook that label until he won a ring in 2009 and that’s a label that ‘Melo carries with him right now.
Everyone knows by now how much Anthony’s playoff failures have been documented and with good reason.
Had he not stepped up when he was needed the most, Anthony would have forever been known as a great scorer who didn’t know how to win.
Ultimately that still could be the case, but at least for one day ‘Melo did his best to prove everyone wrong.
When the season began, there was a long checklist of things Anthony needed to do this season to prove that he is the franchise player the Knicks need.
You can cross winning a playoff series off the list.
That monkey is now off his back.
But Anthony can’t be satisfied with that.
There’s a lot of work left to do and plenty of more accomplishments left to cross off the list.
He’s shown that he can close a series out. Now Anthony must show that he can win a championship to get the biggest monkey off his back.
Follow Matt Shetler on Twitter for news, reaction and analysis from around the NBA.