It is easy to criticize Carmelo Anthony.
All weekend the broadcasts were displaying the not-so-glorious playoff record of Carmelo Anthony -- 15-37 entering Sunday's series-extending win over the Heat, apparently the worst of any player with at least 50 playoff games. Redemption came for Anthony when his go-ahead 3-pointer stood up and the Knicks defeated the Heat 89-87 behind Anthony's 41 points. It was the absolute kind of performance Anthony and the Knicks needed to survive to fight another day.
The first three games of the series were so bad though that it was hard for the Knicks not to begin thinking about ways to improve for 2013. This season turned into a colossal disappointment as the Knicks struggled to stay in the Playoff picture, failed to mesh on the floor and did not compete for the championships that the New York fans and executives envisioned when they paired Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire together.
This perhaps has been the biggest struggle for the Knicks all season. The difference between what the Knicks are and what they were supposed to be.
New York has to figure out a way to make the expectations match the reality. And 2013 will be a big year for doing this.
"Expectations aren't going to change in New York, you know that," Woodson told Marc Berman of the New York Post. "They shouldn't. Rightfully so. Anthony's going to have to raise his game. He's got to do things this summer to better his game -- as well as Tyson [Chandler] and Amar'e [Stoudemire]. If I'm the head coach here, I have to make sure it happens. It's the only way to get out of the rut in terms of him being a first-round exit. He's got to change that."
What those changes might be for next year are still to be determined.
Berman reports that Woodson would like Anthony to shed some weight before next season. Anthony is listed at 230 pounds and averaged 22.6 points per game (his third lowest of his career and worst in eight years). Anthony is still a scoring machine, he proved that Sunday when he poured in 41 points in a do-or-die situation. But he always could show improvement.
That is what Woodson expects from him this summer. Really, that is what he expects from all of New York's key players -- Stoudemire, Anthony and Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
And Anthony's improvements at this point are not going to come from doing different things on the floor. He is the player he is going to be at this point. What Anthony needs to do is continue to improve his understanding of the game and how he fits in within the constructs of the team. He has shown flashes of this ability throughout his career and at the end of this season for sure.
Where Anthony will improve is in these intangible areas. And certainly getting in better shape and improving his quickness and conditioning will make him a better player. That is what this is all about, of course. Constructive criticism.
But first things first, there is the little matter of Woodson getting his own position solidified with the Knicks. And, of course, there is the little matter of finishing off this playoff series too.
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