GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- So who would've Tyson Chandler voted for Defensive Player of the Year, besides himself?
"It would've been tough not voting for me [laughs]," he said at the Knicks' training facility on Wednesday, after officially winning the award. "I love what [Grizzlies forward] Tony Allen does on the ball. I think LeBron [James] is a great defender. But as far as on the ball right now in the league, I think Tony Allen is the best defender in the league."
Thursday night marks James' first playoff game at the Garden. The last time he was there on April 15, his primary defensive matchup, Carmelo Anthony, went for 42 points in a losing effort. Melo's jumpshot was on, and when you consider how quick his release is, there isn't a player in the NBA who can stop it. And neither could James on that Sunday afternoon.
Anthony was feeling it again from the outside in Game 2, going for 30 points on a solid 12-for-26 from the field. That will have to happen again in Game 3, because Melo has struggled a bit driving to the basket and getting to the foul line against James. The Heat star's bigger frame (6-8, 265 vs. 6-8, 230) and quick lateral movement has made it more difficult for Melo to attack with ease off the dribble. He's having to work for every step on the move.
James might be the only player in the league who can give routine fits to Anthony, who will need to put on two Jordan-esque performances at the Garden for the Knicks to send the series back to Miami. In addition to James, Anthony will have to prepare for anything and everything coming at him tonight. Even Melo joked around after practice on Wedneday that he expects every player on the Heat to guard him at some point, including three at the same time.
"I expect LeBron, [Shane] Battier, [Chris] Bosh, [Joel] Anthony," he said. "Even guys that’s not on the team [laughs]. I'm expecting them to throw everything out there, to get the ball out of my hands and be aggressive on the defensive end."
So here we go: Melo or mush. Anthony, quite simply, will have to play the best game of his Knicks career Thursday night, which also includes production in the assist and rebounding departments. Playing the four (in Amare Stoudemire's absence) means he'll have to make smart passes out of the post and set strong positioning for boards. These were things he was doing without STAT in the lineup from March 26 to April 18, even going for a triple-double on April 17 in a 118-110 win over the Celtics -- and he'll have to continue to do them in Game 3.
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