Despite what the delirious Tyson Chandler believes, the New York Knicks were the heavy favorites coming into this series. Vegas has favored them in each game, including tonight (-2.5).
As the Knicks raced out to a 3-0 series lead, there was supreme confidence that this beleaguered, yet overrated franchise would win its first playoff series in 13 years. Melo was not only going to propel the Knicks into unfamiliar territory, but he was also going to excise his personal demons (one playoff series victory in 9 seasons).
The Celtics turned the tables with consecutive victories and suddenly “panic,” “choke” and “2004 Yankees” became the most popular phrases in NYC.
Make no mistake about it, if – and that’s one gigantic if – the Celtics complete the historic comeback, Melo will take all the heat.
And in case Anthony isn’t aware of the ramifications, the NY media is offering some polite reminders.
Anthony is in a career life-or-death situation now, which seems almost impossible considering that just a week ago he was looking at posting his first playoff sweep.
From broom to doom, in record time.
If the Knicks lose this series after being up 3-0, then the franchise will go down in NBA history as the No. 1 all-time flop. And as the face of the franchise, Anthony would have his place in history, too. If he thinks that all the grief he catches for his first-round failures is excessive, he will never be able to live it down if he loses the next two games.
His career will be ruined, his legacy in the toilet.
But even F. Lee Bailey would have a hard time making a case if Melo is the foundation player on the first team to let a 3-0 lead in a best-of-seven slip away. A few days ago, this seemed a foregone conclusion. A few days from now, it could be an un-erasable mark on his permanent record.
While Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry have plenty of experience with playoff pressure, Anthony does not. He’s never won a Game 6 and never played in a Game 7.
Take a deep breath, Melo. It’s only your legacy on the line tonight.