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Pistons at MSG tonight

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (18-30) at New York Knicks (30-15)
  • Date: February 4, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

In the opening month of the season, Carmelo Anthony put his name alongside Kevin Durant and LeBron James in the race for league MVP on the strength of his terrific play at power forward as well as his team’s success.

He wasn’t just scoring the ball, he was doing it at a rate more efficient than what we had become accustomed to from him.

Melo spent part of last season monopolizing possessions to set up his defender with a series of jab fakes and then fired away a multitude of low percentage shots all the while completely halting the Knicks’ ball movement on offense.

But early in the 2012-13 season, Anthony was different.

He was on the block attacking bigger and smaller players by virtue of his foot speed and strength in the low post that just very few can match.

The Eastern Conference Finals seemed like a foregone conclusion with many assuming that dispatching the Miami Heat would be a mere formality based on the victories against them so far in the regular season.

But things have been a little different since the calendar flipped to 2013.

The Knicks are still winning ball games and challenging the defending champions for the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings, but Melo’s MVP bandwagon has come to an abrupt end, at least at present time.

Anthony has drifted a bit more to the perimeter as the season’s progressed and is consequently spending a little less time in the post, and more time away from the basket, firing long 2-point shots as well as 3-pointers.

Even when he does post up, he is getting pushed out from the box and when he catches the ball, he sees extra attention or perhaps a soft double-team, which prompts him to pass the ball to an open teammate, but he has trouble reposting again given that he was already pushed away from the block.

And keep mind, he’s also had to share the court in 2013 not only with Amar’e Stoudemire, but with Tyson Chandler flanking both of them as well, thus relegating Melo to the 3-point line. Per NBA.com’s advanced stats tool, the trio has played 129 minutes together since the January 1st and has in fact been quite productive.

Melo on the other hand has seen his shooting figures plummet as a result of an overreliance on long-range shots.

NBA.com’s advanced stats tool tells us that from opening night to December 31st, the Knicks’ superstar was averaging 28.5 points per game on 47.3 percent field goal shooting and 43.4 percent 3-point shooting. Mind you, from January 1st to today, Melo is scoring 28.4 points per game on 41 percent field goal shooting and 37.6 percent shooting from downtown.

His 3-point attempts have increased in the New Year while his free throw trips have diminished, which has had an impact on New York’s offense as a whole. Indeed, the Knickerbockers’ were scoring 112.2 points per 100 possessions prior to January 1st with the former Olympian on the court but have since regressed to 109.5 points per 100 possessions with Melo on the floor in the New Year.

Part of the offensive struggles might be a direct correlation of the absence of Ray Felton that provided NY with some good dribble penetration to attack the paint and kick out for open shots, but Melo has to do a better job of creating better shots if the Knicks are truly going to contend this season.

Tonight’s contest is a good place to get some insights on the Syracuse product’s mindset given that the Detroit Pistons don’t have anyone truly capable of defending him one-on-one.

Read about the Knicks

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Statistical support provided by NBA.com.

Tags: Carmelo Anthony New York Knicks THN-NYK

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