Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith Struggle as New York Knicks Win Game 1

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

Carmelo Anthony came out hot in the first quarter and hit his first four shots, but then went cold, and made one of his next eight attempts. Anthony, the NBA’s scoring leader with 28.7 points per game, finished with 36 points as hisNew York Knicks defeated the Boston Celtics 85-78 in the first game in the opening round of the playoffs, but he did so shooting 44% from the field (13-29).

Anthony struggled throughout much of the game to get the shots that he wanted. The Celtics, who rotated Brandon Bass and Jeff Green on Anthony, played New York’s superstar exceptionally. Anthony was forced into contested shots, but still managed to drop a hard-earned 36 points.

J.R. Smith, Anthony’s right-hand-man on and off the court, struggled just as Melo did. Smith finished with 15 points on 7-19 shooting, but the stats don’t tell the story of how horrendous the probable Sixth Man of the Year’s shot selection was.

Smith puts up shots that make fans and coaches cringe, but usually they go in. Against Boston today, they weren’t falling. However, Smith did come up with two key steals with less than two minutes left in the game that helped New York seal its eventual seven point victory.

It’s a good sign that the Knicks won with their two best scorers struggling offensively with seemingly endless isolation plays. It’s also discouraging for the Celtics that the team did all they could to slow down the ‘NBA-Jam’ tandem of Anthony and Smith, who combined to shoot 20-48 (41.6%), and still lost.

New York should enjoy this win, the franchise’s second playoff victory in the past twelve years, but the team will need its superstars to pick up their game in Game 2 and the rest of the series.

For more from Thomas Duffy, follow him on Twitter @ThomasDuffyNBA for articles, news, and all things NBA.

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