How much more can Carmelo Anthony be expected to do?
It wasn't the most glamorous 36 points, but he got most of them at the right time in the New York Knicks' 85-78 Game 1 victory over the Boston Celtics.
There wasn't much margin for error here. J.R. Smith went for his usual 15 points off the bench, while Raymond Felton contributed 13 as the starting lineup's second-leading scorer.
But other than those three, only Kenyon Martin converted more than two field goals, one of which came off a beautiful pick-and-roll dish from Melo in the closing minute.
Anthony is one of those rare scorers who has the ability to miss 16 shots (13-of-29 shooting) and still drop 36.
Take a look at his shot chart:
Anthony finished right at his season average of 45 percent thanks to a strong fourth quarter and some clutch jumpers down the stretch.
He shot 4-of-6 from downtown, which helped neutralize his 14 misses inside the arc. This should really be a point of emphasis with regard to Anthony's improvement as a scorer in 2012-13.
Melo shot a career-high 37.9 percent from downtown while making a career-best 2.3 threes per game.
In Game 1 against the Celtics, the Knicks would have had trouble prevailing had it not been for Melo's long-range accuracy.
The rest of the team shot just 38 percent (19-of-50).
Anthony took 29 of the team's 79 shots, which accounted for 36.7 percent of the Knicks' offensive attempts. He finished with 42.4 percent of the team's offensive production (36 of the Knicks' 85 points), which is too high for comfort.
Some of this falls on his teammates, who at times seem too comfortable sitting back and watching Melo go to work. But Anthony is vulnerable to getting trigger-happy and failing to involve his supporting cast.
This is where trusting his teammates becomes relevant. Throughout stretches of the second and third quarters, Anthony developed tunnel vision. He went into one-on-one mode without any intention of giving it up.
For better or worse, Carmelo Anthony essentially made this "passing" stat relevant.
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Carmelo Anthony passed the ball only 3 times in the first half, but passed it 10 times on 23 touches in the 3rd quarter2013-4-20 20:58:50
Only recently have we heard pundits quote how many passes Melo has made in a game.
However, it's actually a pretty revealing statistic. Think about it. We document assists, but never passes, primarily because it sounds meaningless.
But for a superstar whose most glaring resume blemish is that the ball sticks to his hands, the number of passes he makes is actually a telling offensive statistic.
Anthony's shot selection was better late in the game, which can be attributed to where and how he got his offensive touches.
It's all about getting points in the flow and rhythm of the offense. Melo doesn't need seven-second isolation plays to get his 20-plus shots per game. The more hands the ball touches on each possession, the better look the final shot attempt will be.
The ball will find Anthony no matter what. He has to be willing to give it up, knowing it will come back to him eventually in a better spot.
As for his supporting cast, they need to provide a little more support. Tyson Chandler finished with zero shot attempts. Iman Shumpert took two shots all game, both three-pointers.
Anthony could win games on his own, but not series. Not against the Celtics, and certainly not against the Heat if we get that far.
For the Knicks to make a run at this thing, they'll need eight or nine guys to get them there. Not one.