Feb 22, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks small forward Carmelo Anthony (7) celebrates after shooting a three in the second half against the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena. The Hawks won 107-98. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Knicks took care of business last night, handling the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City for a 92-83 victory. As the Atlanta Hawks also won last night, the Knicks still sit one game out of the playoffs. This Wednesday has the potential to have monumental repercussions towards the playoff race as the Knicks take on the Brooklyn Nets and the Hawks take on the Chicago Bulls.
It’s coming down to the wire now, and the Knicks are going to need to be at their best. Thankfully, for New York, they’ve entered the month of April, in which, much like Earth itself, Carmelo Anthony springs to life.
For those that have forgotten — last season, the Knicks suffered a brutal March where injuries inspired losses and there were fears the team would possibly drop out of a playoff loss. However, spurred by a big win in Utah midway through the month, the Knicks roared through the rest of the month and into April. They won 13 games in a row and 16 of their final 18 overall.
Much of it was spurred by Carmelo Anthony, who for whatever reason, tends to get hot in April. Last season, ‘Melo averaged a scorching 36.9 points on 53.8% FG, 46.7% 3FG, to go with 9.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. His torrid scoring was highlighted by a three-game stretch in which he dropped 50 points on the Miami Heat, 40 on the Hawks, and 41 on the Milwaukee Bucks, all while shooting 64% from the field.
It wasn’t his first time, either. Recall that in the abbreviated 2011-12 lockout season, Anthony and the Knicks once again got hot in the spring. After Mike Woodson took over for Mike D’Antoni in early March, the Knicks finished out the season with an 18-6 record that put them into the postseason. Anthony went off again in April, averaging 29.8 points on 49.5% shooting, 46% from downtown, to go with 7.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
In both these seasons, there was a common thread: Anthony playing the power forward. Amar’e Stoudemire’s availability was limited or completely absence, and the Knicks were shallow upfront. Anthony was pushed to the four and what resulted were some dynamic performances.
But ‘Melo has always been great in the month of April. According to Basketball Reference, Anthony’s 27 points, 48.4% FG, 39.5% 3FG, and 57.7% TS averages in April are the best of any month in his career. Anthony simply knows how to get to the finish line in style.
This season, Anthony might have the chance to do it again. Amar’e Stoudemire sat last night out for precautionary reasons, but his long-term availability is always in question. Tyson Chandler is reportedly dealing with back issues. Tim Hardaway Jr. hurt his ankle last night. All of these things may push Carmelo Anthony to the power forward and cast the task of leading the Knicks upon him.
It would obviously be better if the Knicks were at full health, but if we’re all buying into this race to the playoffs, let’s hope we get our usual dose of April Carmelo Anthony.
Follow Scott Davis on Twitter.