Should the Jets Lose on Purpose This Week?
2020 is the year of pandemic, corruption and Carmelo Anthony getting redemption. After the Portland Trail Blazers secured the eight-seed Saturday night, Melo’s playoff path is…interesting.
Just take a look at his first matchup. Portland takes on the Los Angeles Lakers. We get a LeBron James-Carmelo Anthony matchup in 2020. This league is fucking beautiful.
The two have been rivals since entering the league. James stole Rookie of the Year from Anthony in 2004. Ever since, the two have had battles. While LeBron has a 25-15 record against Melo, the Syracuse product has put up a fight.
After all, averaging 22 points, 7 boards and 3 dimes a game against the greatest player since Michael Jordan is an accomplishment.
Anthony has only played James in the playoffs once. LeBron and the Heat’s Big Three beat the Anthony-led Knicks. Melo dropped 30+ points three times in the 4-1 series. That includes a spectacular 41-point outing for Melo at the Garden.
While I wouldn’t expect anything in 2020 to come close to their 2012 battle, the nostalgia factor is certainly in play. Just seeing Anthony back James down in the post, turn around and hit that fadeaway splash would be beautiful. Hell even clamping James down in Game 1 was exciting to see. And after Anthony’s past few years in the league, it would represent a sense of retribution.
But the real revenge tour starts in Round 2. If the Trailblazers somehow make it past the Lakers, an incredibly daunting task, they get to take on the winner of Rockets/Thunder.
Anthony has history with both. His tenure in Oklahoma City was really the last time anyone considered him to be a star. He never meshed with Russell Westbrook and Paul George. The Thunder ended the Melo era in 2018.
His next stop was in Houston. And that’s where Melo stopped being a star and became washed up. Anthony turned himself into what once-teammate Allen Iverson became: a jaded 34-year-old with no sense of purpose. The league didn’t need him, he needed it. After 13 games, the Rockets let him go.
On paper, the Trail Blazers have a more favorable matchup against Oklahoma City. However, that marquee matchup isn’t there. It’s Carmelo Anthony versus a bunch of guys he’s never played with. Both Westbrook and George are gone, to the Rockets and Clippers respectively.
Give me that Damian Lillard-Chris Paul matchup all day though. I will happily pay extra.
The Rockets, however, have a coach Melo never meshed with and the two stars he never gelled with. It’s hard to say what James Harden and Anthony might’ve been. After all, they only played a few games together and those didn’t necessarily bring highlights for either men.
On the surface, Anthony and Westbrook seemed fine together. Melo worked alright as a tertiary scorer, playing off of Westbrook. But after claiming that Westbrook steals rebounds and accusations that he was “freezing” his co-stars, it’s clear Melo and Westbrook have had a bit of a rocky relationship.
Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni doesn’t like Anthony. He claimed they swung for the fences signing Anthony in 2018 and missed by a mile. D’Antoni even said he doesn’t have to love all of his players, a reference to Melo. Anthony essentially forced D’Antoni out of New York with inefficient play. So the hate is understandable.
Anthony claims the relationship between the two has been mended. But I want to see it on the court. I want to see Anthony grab an offensive board and stare daggers at D’Antoni while slamming it down. I want to see D’Antoni screaming at his wing defenders to stay on Melo. Fuck Lillard, don’t let up an Anthony 3. It’s only 3 points on the scoreboard, but in the war between the two, it’s so much more.
We might never see Anthony as a scoring leader again. That’s fine. He’s in his late 30s now and is certainly in the twilight of his NBA career. He’s aging like a fine wine. But hey, sometimes that wine has a little bit of a kick. The 2020 NBA Playoffs could be Melo’s kick.