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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Carmelo Anthony's Least Favorite Playoff Numbers: 1 and 4

Each year around this time we hear that Carmelo Anthony's Denver Nuggets are a "dangerous" team that "no one wants to play"--and then they win one game, sometimes on the road against a higher seeded opponent, before losing four and getting eliminated. Denver is one loss in San Antonio away from doing this for the fourth year in a row. San Antonio trailed by as many as 10 points in Monday's game four but outscored Denver 29-16 in the fourth quarter to win 96-89 and take a 3-1 series lead. Right after Denver beat the Spurs in San Antonio in game one, some "experts" predicted that the Nuggets were for real this time--and I wrote that the Spurs would win the series in less than seven games.

Tim Duncan led the Spurs with 22 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. The Elias Sports Bureau combed through the archives and discovered that this was the 20th playoff game in which Duncan led or tied for the team lead in all three categories, one shy of the NBA record held by Larry Bird. Robert Horry had just six points and six rebounds but added yet another chapter to his War and Peace length book of playoff heroics by draining a three pointer with :30 left that put the Spurs up 93-89. Can you say, "Good night, thank you for coming and don't forget the speakers"? (just checking to see if there are any Cheech and Chong fans here...) Anthony actually had a reasonably productive game: 29 points (11-18 shooting) and six rebounds, though he did have an unsightly 6/3 turnover to assist ratio. He has played better, by far, in this year's playoffs than in his three previous postseasons, when he averaged 18.6 ppg on .362 shooting. Allen Iverson had 22 points and seven assists but shot just 9-25 from the field and only went to the free throw line five times.

The Nuggets probably have the best mix of players that they have had since Anthony entered the NBA; next year, when Iverson is on board for a full season and Anthony presumably avoids being suspended, they may in fact really turn out to be dangerous--but their 2007 postseason seems destined to end like the previous three did: 1 and 4 and out the door.

posted by David Friedman @ 5:59 AM



At Tuesday, May 01, 2007 11:01:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

another one and done for anthony game 1 meant nuthing he is good player he aint lebromn though or d wade he will have his moments but never go far in playoffs

At Wednesday, May 02, 2007 4:02:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I agree. When Melo first came into the league after winning an NCAA title I had high hopes for him but he really has not improved that much overall during his career, while LeBron and Wade have gotten better each year.

At Sunday, May 13, 2007 11:39:00 AM, Blogger drumdance said...

Okay, I'm very late to this tread because it only just how showed up on Ballhype, but I have to take issue with the notion that Carmelo has not improved overall. You're kidding, right? His scoring and shooting percentage are both up considerably. His 3 point shooting and rebounding are both better than Wade. Wade & Lebron have more assists and better 3 point shooting, but that's to be expected of guards. By every other measure he's at the same level or better than those two.

Of the the three, Lebron is IMO the most gifted and consistent. Wade has a championship ring, but something tells me Shaq had something to do with that. I think Kobe is the best player in the game right now, but he has zero rings without Shaq.

Of the three, Lebron has done the most in terms of taking a team on his back and getting them to the second round and perhaps beyond, but that's not a knock on Carmelo.

Part of the reason Carmelo doesn't get as much attention is that he's not a perennial All Star. But that's because the Western Conference is full of All Stars at his position. (This year's All NBA first team consists solely of Western Conference players.) If he were in the East he would be a lock every year. If the Nuggets start well next season, he'll probably be voted in to the starting lineup.

At Sunday, May 13, 2007 2:05:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I said that Melo has not improved "that much overall." Yes, some of his numbers have gone up but his overall impact on a game has not increased much. Wade has clearly improved since he came into the league; he had a tremendous playoff run in 2006. LeBron has made his mark in both of his playoff runs, scoring 20 points in his first 19 games and amassing triple doubles, 40 point games and game winning shots. Melo has not grown much as a regular season player and has been a poor postseason performer overall, although he did not do that badly this year. He has a lot of talent around him and every year we hear how dangerous Denver is going to be--and then the Nuggets win their one playoff game and go home. I can't imagine that any NBA coach would take Melo over LeBron or Wade at this point; when there are injury replacements at the All-Star Game I don't see the coaches rushing to find a spot for Melo.

I'm not saying that Melo is terrible or anything like that. He's somewhere around the 15th-20th best player in the league, as I said in a different post/comment thread; a previous commenter called Melo an "elite" player. He and I actually agreed that Melo is 15th-20th but disagreed over whether or not that is "elite." To me, "elite" is top five or top ten at the most: All-NBA First Team and maybe some of the Second Team guys. LeBron and Wade (when healthy) are elite players, while Melo is a level or so below that. LeBron and Wade seem to continue to improve and have built more impressive playoff resumes than Melo. Considering that Melo led a team to an NCAA title I thought that things might turn out a little differently. There is certainly still time for Melo to make a more emphatic mark on the league than he has to this point.


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