Despite notching the first scoring title of his illustrious career this season, it's no secret that for Carmelo Anthony, the 2012-2013 year would be defined by his successes or failures in the postseason. Through five games it's been a mixed bag for 'Melo, who struggled in each of the last two games, both of which ended in losses for the Knicks.
Melo's lack of playoff success is well known at this point.
Now in his 11th year in the league, Anthony has turned into a bona-fide superstar, but one who repeatedly comes up short in the postseason. Carmelo's clubs have been eliminated in the first round in nine of his 10 postseason appearances, and even a run to the 2009 Western Conference Finals was credited in large part to the arrival of Chauncey Billups in a trade to Denver that season.
However, the 2013 postseason was supposed to be different. The Knicks entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed and with home-court advantage against an aging Celtics squad without their own star, Rajon Rondo.
But it's been up and down for Anthony through five games, particularly in both Knicks losses. In Game 4 Melo finished with 36 points, but did so on just 10-of-35 shooting from the field, and Game 5 Wednesday wasn't much better. Anthony scored 22 points on 8-of-24 shooting, with more than half his points (12) coming in the first quarter.
Despite the lackluster performance, Knicks coach Mike Woodson refused to blame the loss on Anthony.
"He missed shots," Woodson admitted in his press conference, before he eventually turned his attention to the entire team. "We just couldn't find buckets (as a team)."
Woodson was correct in that assessment. The Knicks shot just 39.5 percent from the field, their second straight game in which they shot worse than 40 percent.
Going forward, the bigger concern might be Anthony's health. Anthony got tangled up with Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter of Game 5, briefly clutching his shoulder and heading toward the bench before returning to the court without missing any game action. Woodson told reporters that Anthony was "fine" following the loss.
The good news for Knicks fans is that, assuming Anthony is healthy, he has shown an ability to step up in this series; his struggles in Game's 4 and 5 were offset by solid performances in Games 1 through 3. In those first three games, Anthony averaged 32 points per contest and shot at least 44 percent from the field. All three games resulted in wins for New York.
It's clear that as Carmelo Anthony goes, so too go the Knicks.
They can only hope to get a better effort in Game 6 on Friday night than they have in each of the last two games.