By Steve Silverman
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Here’s a word of advice for Carmelo Anthony: Take the weekend off. Do not suit up for the All-Star Game or any of the weekend’s festivities in Houston.
You are tired and sore. The injured biceps muscle may or may not be a serious issue, but even if it’s not a major problem, there’s some fatigue in your game and you need some time away.
If you have already flown down to Houston, how about hopping on the next plane back so you can get your rest?
The NBA does not like it when its stars blow off the All-Star Game, but the Knicks need to get off to a good start in the second half of the season. If Anthony is even more tired when he gets back from Houston than he was when he left Toronto on Wednesday night, where is that going to leave them?
The Knicks are in second place in the Eastern Conference at the break, and they should be able to hold on to that position for the rest of the season.
It doesn’t look like they would have a decent chance to catch the Miami Heat, and the only way they would have a chance to push the Heat in a playoff series and perhaps beat them is if LeBron James suffered a serious injury himself.
This is not a great season for Eastern Conference basketball. Other than the Knicks, the Pacers and the Nets are playing respectably, but they are not serious contenders. The Chicago Bulls would have a serious chance of pushing the Knicks and the Heat if Derrick Rose could come back strong, but that’s a long way from happening.
The Bulls are merely just a hard-working, hustling team that head coach Tom Thibodeau knows how to drive. Without their superstar operating at the top of his game, Chicago is just another team.
The Knicks are much better than that when Anthony is at the top of his game. He was not at that level against the lowly Raptors, connecting on just 5 of 24 shots from the field and totaling 12 points.
Knicks fans have every reason to be concerned about the second half of the season. The Knicks are the oldest team in the league and they are reliant on Anthony for shooting, playmaking and the ability to make big plays at key moments.
There are others who can follow his lead and complement him, but if Anthony was truly hurt and couldn’t play for a long period, it would not be pretty. Guard J.R. Smith was among those who was shocked to see Anthony performing at a subpar level.
“That impacted our game,” Smith said. “We are not used to seeing him play that way. He doesn’t usually go through slumps like that.”
You might say that the Knicks are not going to beat the Heat under any circumstances, so what does it matter? If you’re second, you might as well be last because you’re not going to the NBA Finals.
Well, that’s the part that can’t be assumed. James is probably playing the best basketball of his career right now. He’s not going to slow down in the regular season or the playoffs.
But what happens if the James injury scenario outlined above occurs? What happens if the “Chosen One” twists an ankle or bangs up a knee and can’t play, or isn’t capable of playing his best game?
That’s when the Knicks would have a chance, and that’s why they need Anthony to be at his best.
Anthony will not let himself get pushed into playing while he’s nursing a painful biceps. But he shouldn’t even put himself in position to get drawn into the game.
He needs to fly back home and take the weekend off.
He needs to give the Knicks a chance.
Is this a no-brainer? Even if the injury isn’t serious, should Melo be cautious and skip the All-Star Game? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…