There were two games on the NBA Playoff slate Thursday night and both resulted in blowouts. Coincidentally, both losing teams received subpar efforts from their stars.
Knicks in 0-3 hole
As I mentioned the other day, the Miami Heat is simply toying with the Knicks. The Heat allows New York to hang around for two to three quarters and then WHAM, it’s over. Miami slams the door and before you know it, LeBron and company win by double digits. The Heat outscored New York 51-30 in the 2nd half on Thursday night. In other depressing Knicks news, the team shot 31% from the field and 20% from three, Steve Novak scored 0 points in 22 minutes, and the Knicks compiled eight assists… total. In other words, the Knicks couldn’t shoot and failed to move the ball. This just in: the Knicks flat out stink.
Here’s what I don’t get. Why do we constantly include Carmelo Anthony in the same conversation as Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and other NBA elite players? While Carmelo is a world-class scorer, he brings absolutely nothing else to the table. His defense is horrendous. He aggressively rebounds only when it suits him. He’s never made any of his teammates better. He doesn’t create offense for anyone but himself. And finally, he doesn’t win. A conference final is the crowning achievement of his professional career thus far.
In Game 3 Thursday night, Melo went 7/23 with two assists and five turnovers. He was a -25 for the evening. In Game 1, Melo was 3/15. Throughout the series Melo has amassed a whopping six assists compared to 12 turnovers. I’m going to say it, so avert your eyes if need be; Carmelo Anthony is beyond overrated. He’s peaked. He’ll never be more than a regular season stat stuffer. Madison Square Garden deserves more from their “superstar.”
The king is dead
The defending champion Dallas Mavericks are going out in style… embarrassing style, but style nonetheless. After nearly stealing Games 1 and 2 in Oklahoma City, I wasn’t sure whether the Mavericks would come out in Game 3 motivated and hungry or completely discouraged and exhausted. In case you missed it, discouraged and exhausted was the correct answer. The Thunder jumped on the elderly champions from the opening tip and never relented. Dirk Nowitzki checked out about three minutes into the 3rd quarter while Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook did as they pleased.
My brother made an interesting observation after it was clear the Mavericks had little intention of competing Thursday night. He offered the Mavericks – without Tyson Chandler – are once again the same team that lacked a certain confidence and swagger in the postseason. While the argument that the Mavericks are simply outmanned in this series is certainly a viable one, it doesn’t negate the fact that Nowitzki, while an outstanding player, is not a team leader. At no point in Thursday’s game did he make even the slightest effort to take over the game. The Thunder bullied him for three straight games and he finally had enough. He stopped fighting for position, never once tried to rally the home crowd, and essentially stopped caring.
Dirk entered the lockout-shortened season disinterested and out of shape. Based on Thursday’s performance, he’s leaving it with his tail between his legs. Apparently, having the heart of a champion is only a temporary state.