Who Should Be Defending Melo?





NEW YORK – In the wake of Game 4 between the New York Knicks and Miami Heat, much was made about Erik Spoelstra‘s decision to have Shane Battier, instead of LeBron James, defend Carmelo Anthony in the fourth quarter of the Knicks’ 89-87 victory.

Anthony scored 12 of the Knicks’ final 16 points on Sunday. And in the series thus far, he has shot 12-for-41 (29 percent) when being guarded by James and 19-for-38 (50 percent) when being guarded by Battier.

Carmelo Anthony’s shooting, first round

Defender FGM FGA FG%
James 12 41 29.3%
Battier 19 38 50.0%
Wade 3 5 60.0%
Haslem 0 3 0.0%
Bosh 0 2 0.0%
Chalmers 2 2 100.0%
Miller 0 1 0.0%
None 1 1 100.0%
Total 37 93 39.8%

Here’s ESPN’s Brian Windhorst took on Spoelstra after the game

The Heat lost because they allowed Carmelo Anthony to score 41 points on just 29 shots. Instead of making him the volume scorer they did for the rest of the series, Anthony was able to get the ball where he wanted it, let him get to the line 14 times, and let him get on an offensive roll.

In other words, the only thing that could beat the Heat happened.

Anthony did the bulk of it against Shane Battier, including for the entire fourth quarter. For the first three games of the series, and even for the last game of the regular season between the teams on April 15 that served as a playoff warmup, Spoelstra went with James on Anthony for the stretch run.

Yet this time Battier was left on him as Anthony took the green light to attack him and shoot over him while James guarded Chandler. Anthony scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting in the fourth, picking apart the Heat’s sudden change of heart.

Battier wasn’t guarding Anthony on two of those four makes in the fourth quarter on Sunday. The first of the four was a transition and-one over Dwyane Wade. And the third of the four was a turnaround, foul-line jumper over James after a switch.

Of course, the most painful defensive possession for the Heat was Battier’s foul on an Anthony 3-pointer with 25.9 seconds left. But that was a tough call (the contact seemed to come after the release) and Anthony only made one of the three free throws.

In watching all 93 of Anthony’s shots in the series, it becomes clear that Battier has done a better job than James of contesting them. James is bigger, and maybe Anthony is more hesitant to challenge James. He has certainly appeared more aggressive when he’s had Battier guarding him.

Anthony beat Battier off the dribble once in the series, but he’s beat James off the dribble too. And the big difference in the numbers against the two defenders is outside the paint.

Anthony’s shooting locations vs. Battier and James

  Restricted Area Paint (Non-RA) Mid-Range Corner 3 Above the Break 3
Defender FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG% FGM FGA FG%
Battier 6 14 42.9% 1 6 16.7% 10 15 66.7% 0 0 2 3 66.7%
James 5 12 41.7% 1 2 50.0% 6 21 28.6% 0 1 0.0% 0 5 0.0%

Sure, the argument can be made that James should be the guy defending Anthony on key possessions down the stretch. But Anthony has taken mostly the same shots against both defenders.

All those mid-range shots? James really hasn’t done a better job of defending them than Battier. But sometimes, contested shots go in and uncontested shots don’t.

The conversation goes a lot deeper than just 50 percent vs. 29 percent.

52 Comments

  1. charmaine says:

    ljames you are who you are can’t stop you the ring next just take to the hoop

  2. Ultima says:

    The OP says: “The conversation goes a lot deeper than just 50 percent vs. 29 percent.”

    Absolutely right; in fact, you nailed it yourself, Schuhmann:

    “In watching all 93 of Anthony’s shots in the series, it becomes clear that Battier has done a better job than James of contesting them. James is bigger, and maybe Anthony is more hesitant to challenge James. He has certainly appeared more aggressive when he’s had Battier guarding him.”

    The point that Battier has done a better job guarding Melo than the stats suggest is completely overcome by the second half of your observation: Melo is more aggressive against Battier. Regardless of how much better Shane’s D has been, Melo is more willing to attack him, meaning he’s more likely to score with confidence and, in turn, rack up bigger numbers. Battier may actually be playing better defense on Melo in a technical sense, but the psychological advantage of having LeBron on him trumps that. If I’m the coach, I’d rather keep Melo hesitant and less aggressive, since he’s more or less the only hope NY has.

    Better defense isn’t better if it somehow inspires better offense as well. Battier is (was) a top-notch defender, but if Melo doesn’t fear him like he does LeBron, it’s not going to matter.

  3. Christina says:

    2 things
    Melos the man, and i hate lebum!

  4. jackoftrades says:

    Anyone who thinks Melo’s OFF is better than Lebron’s is just in denial. Anthony gets 40 points every now and then, but look at the other games. LBJ consistently scores more points, has a better drive to the basket, and can make plays out of nothing where Carmelo will just wildly shoot the ball like if he thinks he’s kobe. Not to mention Lebron has been on top of the MVP ladder the WHOLE season because of his performances while carmelo wasnt even on the list. Carmelo is a great player all in his own but he isn’t at the level LBJ is. At least not at the moment

  5. LOVETHEGAME says:

    Game 4 made me sick to my stomach! Erik SPO should’ve been the waterboy after the finals of last season! Is he in training or something, I can’t believe he actually went with that play…I am a die hard HEAT fan, but if LBJ don’t speak up and ask for the ball in moments like Game 4, he’s going to be sitting on his couch right along with me watching the rest of the playoffs and the finals! Okay, Knicks beat Miami that one game out of the whole season and now everyone is making a big deal about Melo, OKC, BOS, etc….really? Go Heat

    • Heathialeahfan says:

      100% agreed… SPO for the waterboy position and with the company of Joel Anthony for the towels..but what are we going to do with the Mastermind Pat Riley ??

  6. Tom says:

    Obviously it should be lebron on melo. Lebron is the best defender in the league hands down! i wrote all about how the knicks season is over on ym site so come read and enjoy! http://nbawagers.com/2012/05/adios-knicks-see-you-in-october/

  7. phillipjpark says:

    FACT: Miami will win this series.

    FICTION: Miami will win the Finals.
    Think about it. Miami didn’t sweep against an injured, broken Knicks team(4 injured Starting players). OKC and Spurs swept 2 teams that are better than the Knicks(one winning a championship last year). If the Knicks found a small dent in the HEAT (which they have defense-wise) than the Western Conference will blow a hole wide open.

  8. LBJMVP says:

    FIRE SPO. He has no idea how to coach this team. This team is built to win multiple championships and they somehow handicap themselves with a ‘coach’ like this. Putting battier on Anthony all day allowing him to explode for 41 is simply shameful when you have a guy that could clearly defend and intimidate Melo way better. It’s okay to start the game off with battier guarding melo, but when he was burning battier like he did, in game adjustments, something Spo is absolutely terrible at, will be needed. His poor decision making and stubborness has costed MIAMI the game. Not only on the defensive end, but the last play drew up for Wade was also very questionable. When you have the league MVP, best player in the world as of right now with a hot hand, how could any coach draw up a play that only involves james standing in the far corner watching wade bomb the game with a crazy hero shot. That play was probably the ugliest end game execution I’ve seen in basketball and I totally did not expect this from the HEAT.

    Where was james jones all game (their best 3 point shooter), and where was Turiaf? They desperately tried to sign a big man for the playoffs in Turiaf and Spo decided to bench him and give him no minutes?? Are you kidding me? It’s not even like Turiaf was playing bad or anything. He went from taking Joel Anthony’s starting role to now, playing absolutely no minutes. His way of managing the rotation is puzzling. I will say this again, as long as Erik Spoelstra remains to be the head coach of this team, the heat will never win a championship. The prime time of Lebron and Wade are just being wasted by a joke trying to learn how to coach a basketball team. Good job Riley.

  9. Ted says:

    Well stats say they should use Lebron James on him. Could use a little bit of Haslem in there but he would be a litlle too slow for Melo on isos and chasing around screens. I am surprised how Mike Woodson doesn’t seemingly adjust in games. Games 1-3 is evidenced by that. They just got lucky in game 4 because old man Battier is guarding Melo

  10. phillipjpark says:

    Melo should be getting double teamed obviously. Spolestra said that in this series he doesn’t feel that the Heat defense is containing him…He should be getting double teamed while Bosh is on Amar’e so that the pressure is on the rest of the Knicks for scoring.

    Take away Melo’s scoring ability and the Knicks have NO CHANCE to win.

  11. S27M says:

    LeBron’s Shut down Defense.

    Numbers don’t lie Melo is 12-41 @ 29.3%

    I am sure this time LeBron will be all over him gm 5

  12. NYK says:

    No matter who guards Melo he still gonna make some shots. The video shows how he made shots with Lebron & Battier and I don’t think Miami is gonna win this year just because they got Lebron, Wade and Bosh…look what happened last year.

  13. miaming says:

    Chalmers

  14. Jack says:

    its all possible,..unless one of the big 3 will get injured i pray it wont happen. lets go heat!!

  15. Nakakapagpabagabag says:

    3-2

  16. Barry Gleed says:

    All I know is, if Melo is guarded correctly and efficiently, we (Knicks) have no chance. Lebron is a good clutch defender, a fantastic one, but lets see if he can maintain that over a whole game, content to focus his effort on that in place of bulldozing down the court every opportunity he gets!!

    Most likely the move will be to defend Melo shared between Battier and Lebron, high intensity to shut out our best chance to win again.

    I think the Knicks may sneak this one tonight, still something to prove and nothing to lose, which is a dangerous mix. But the series is most likely going the way of Miami, lets be real. But then there are tests in defending Paul George, Danny Granger, then potentially Pierce, Allen and Garnett, THEN potentially Durant!!!! If Miami win it all, they will do it with defense, and I don’t know if I’ve seen enough this whole season to make me think that’s possible……..

  17. LEBON gaard melo in 4th
    GO HEAT!

  18. EMMAN says:

    SHUT UP!!! COZ ITS ALREADY 4-1!!! ^^

  19. lakermig says:

    you just cant compare LBJ to any other player who ever played the game i mean com’on he guards every position(WELL) when have you ever seen that reading this article made me laugh a bit when i got to the part that LBJ was guarding chandler hehe a centre last year he guarded rose (and very well ) he guarded anthony and didn’t let him score anywhere close to what battier another good defender did. It’s impressive to say the least seeing as he can also play nearly any position in attack too and does all of that effectively, he is literally the most athletic human specimen i have ever seen.

  20. Carlito says:

    “In watching all 93 of Anthony’s shots in the series, IT BECOMES CLEAR that Battier has done a better job than James of contesting them. James is bigger, and maybe Anthony is more hesitant to challenge James. He has certainly appeared more aggressive when he’s had Battier guarding him.”

    From whos perspective?

    It really shouldn’t be a discussion. The stats speak for itself. There’s no point arguing. The only people who tend to argue are the LBJ/Miami haters, either one of those.

  21. king says:

    who cares. he had one decent game and now everyone wants to talk about who should guard him. This wasn’t an issue in games 1-3

  22. Anoynomous says:

    Nate Robinson would do a good job

  23. Heatlatinofan says:

    no one can stop melo. sure he is bad at defense but one of best offensive player in the league. in my opinion his offensive is even better than LBJ. what Heat should do is let melo be melo and put battier on him. Stop the other 4 guys and you win the game. let LBJ rest in defensive end so he can be a force late in the game. guarding melo will ware him out.

  24. Coach Dee says:

    Carmelo Anthony had a shooting slump, a bad-day-game. It’s not because he was defended by LeBron James. You can virtually put anybody on Melo and still cannot buy a basket, Game 1. But that’s about it.

    Put anyone on him, Game 5, he’ll shake them off. Melo will destroy every defender on the Heat.

  25. Mr Festus says:

    Maybe Coach wants to win the series at home

  26. mattman says:

    miami should just focus on everyone else but melo..if they put a solid defender on melo and work on locking up his teammates, melo will end up playing a lot of one on one basketball and jack up a lot of unnecessary shots..http://www.mindofmattman.com/

  27. dan says:

    yea but then who would guard chandler?

    • miami boy says:

      d-wade chris bosh undois halsem the list goes on chandler isnt that much of a problem in the offence

  28. Rodjamelp says:

    I’m a Knicks fan but lebron is the best baketball player in the world like Chuck said. If you let Lebron guard Melo you won’t have him. Melo is playing closer to the basket and will put Lebron in Foul trouble.

  29. Heat Fan says:

    Of course LeBron should be guarding Melo, LeBron is bigger and stronger then Shane Battier. Shane is a great defender but, not on a bigger Carmelo… Once J.R. and Melo are at the same time Shane should be guarding J.R. because J.R. isn’t that much bigger than Shane. Once Carmelo starts to post-up on Shane he can take an easy advantage on him… I sont get it why Erik doesn’t put LeBron on Carmelo everytime he is playing. that simple…

  30. littleteapot says:

    Oh my god!! Spoelstra made a bad adjustment? This is unthinkable. Also galaragabigcat, most teams try to rest their starters by ending the series as fast as possible. Now because he used up slightly less energy in game 4, he will have to play 30-something more minutes in at least 1 more game before he can rest and prepare for next round.

  31. Bev says:

    I trust the Miami Heat Coaching Staff and the team working together to make that decision.
    And I will continue to enjoy watching these great games !!!

    Love Lady “B”
    #1 Heat Fan in NC MsBevBlack nba.com

  32. LebronHasToGuardMelo says:

    of course lebron (THE KING) he’s winning his first ring this year! yea buddy!

  33. lebronfannomatterwhat says:

    Lebron no matter what! melo only made 29% when lebron is guarding him!

  34. Andre Lage says:

    I think that LeBron should defend Melo. No doubt

  35. W/E says:

    Labron”the king” of course he should play some defence and backup his “title”

  36. It is unreal. If LeBron was also guarding a prominent player on the Knicks I would understand. But, he’s guarding Mike Bibby while Melo lights up Battier?! I don’t understand. This series should have been over with. Check out my take on Game 4′s crunch time hereos:

    http://www.nbainsight.com

    Thanks!

  37. IT should be LeBron because Battier cannot stop him. Sometimes you don’t want to tire your best player or risk foul trouble. In game 2, LeBron defended Melo for awhile and Melo couldnt score!
    Anyway, the series should be over if LeBron had not been standing in the corner at the end of game 4.
    With the game on the line the ball needs to be in the hand of your best player, period! D-Wade is a pure shooter, but no one has stopped LeBron driving to the basket yet! If you wanted D-Wade to shoot have LeBron set the pick, not Bosh as LeBron would have rolled harder to the basket. But like I said the ball needs to be in LeBrons hand in the first place.
    I don’t get why he doesnt want the ball when the game is on the line. If he really wanted it, he should tell the coach give me the ball. Like Chris Paul, Kobe, Dirk, Rose, Melo and all great players do!

  38. charles says:

    It should be a mix, but mostly Shane battier should defend Melo. The reason is beyond simple statistics. You need Battier to be in top form as you go to second round. So defending Melo will help him be in top form as he defends Pierce, granger, or Iguldala. It’s the best full playoff strategy to get battier in the shape he needs to be in as a defender…

    • Jokah says:

      i agree it should be a mix because lebron knows melos game and most of his moves after guarding him his whole carreer but battier is a more physical and up in ur face type of defender

  39. MeloFANTCSTAT says:

    melo CARRY hard.

  40. Renato says:

    No doubt it should be James.I already wrote that in a previous post.

    • IT should be LeBron because Battier cannot stop him. Sometimes you don’t want to risk tiring your best player or foul trouble. In game 2, LeBron defended Melo for awhile and Melo couldnt score!
      Anyway, the series should be over if LeBron had not been standing in the corner at the end of game 4.
      With the game on the line the ball needs to be in the hand of your best player, period! D-Wade is a pure shooter, but no one has stopped LeBron driving to the basket yet! If you wanted D-Wade to shoot have LeBron set the pick, not Bosh as LeBron would have rolled harder to the basket. But like I said the ball needs to be in LeBrons hand in the first place.
      I don’t get why he doesnt want the ball when the game is on the line. If he really wanted it, he should tell the coach give me the ball. Like Chris Paul, Kobe, Dirk, Rose, Melo and all great players do!

  41. Sea Pea says:

    LeBron should take the intiative and just guard him.

  42. Sea Pea says:

    Every garbage can gets a steak from time to time.

  43. Julio says:

    LEBRON JAMES . LET ERIK KNOW. ( IN ANY CASE , HE IS NOT PAYING ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!.)

  44. Lebron should be, this is the playoffs i know i want to see the best on each team going head to head, wades not tall unuff for melo but wade can d up boys to, but lebron needs to be on melo,

    • allaroundballer says:

      Do we really need to discuss? After maybe the only NY’s win. Whoever guarding him, Melo couldn’t score that much everynight. 4-1