Carmelo Anthony hasn't been up 2-0 in a playoff series often in his career and he isn't feeling too comfortable with the Knicks' impressive start to this postseason.
He doesn't want his teammates to, either.
The Knicks have dominated Boston in the second half of both of their first-round games, allowing 48 points total. They've played suffocating defense and shown a passion and sense of urgency that are necessary ingredients for a long playoff run.
But Anthony wouldn't entertain questions about whether he needs scoring help for the Knicks to go far. He won't entertain anything beyond Game 3 tomorrow night in Boston.
"When that time comes we'll deal with it," Anthony said Tuesday night. "Right now I want nobody on my team looking ahead to anything that we don't have to look ahead to. We take it one day at a time. We focus in on that game. Our next task is Friday. When that time comes, if it comes, we'll deal with it then. I want our team to just focus in on Friday and doing what we have to do to win that game."
Anthony has been consistent with this approach. Throughout the season, Anthony has said "one day at a time" countless times. He called Game 2 Tuesday a "must win," and helped the Knicks get it with 34 points, including 19 in the second half. Two more wins and the Knicks will get out of the first round for the first time since 2000 and Anthony for just the second time in his 10-year career.
This postseason might be more important for Anthony than any other player. Constantly reminded of his playoff failures, Anthony hopes to prove he can lead his team to a championship.
Now that LeBron James has won a ring, Anthony has become the most scrutinized player in the league. He led the NBA in scoring this year and still is called selfish, despite showing more trust in his teammates than in any other season.
"I rely on my teammates more than a lot of people see," Anthony said. "I rely on my teammates to pick me up offensively when I don't have it and defensively when we're not doing it."
This is part of Anthony's growth and development as a player. Playing on the Olympic team last year helped in that area. Having Jason Kidd and Rasheed Wallace around all year also has impacted how Anthony looks at things.
The Knicks stocked up on veterans who have won championships and been to the NBA Finals and multiple conference finals. They've provided leadership and tried to help Anthony and some younger veterans stay committed and focused.
"Guys know what's at stake," said Kenyon Martin, a major force on the defensive end in this series. "We put ourselves in a great position in the regular season to get the second seed. Guys know what it's about right now. It's about winning a championship. We're taking it game by game . . . We're coming out and playing hard at all times."
The Celtics have veterans who have won rings, too. But Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce haven't shown the championship mettle many expected from them in the first two games. The Knicks are proving to be the deeper, more talented team with more battle-tested players and one hungry superstar who is staying in the moment.
"Boston is a team that's not going to go nowhere," Anthony said. "They're going to be there until the end. When we get big leads we can't get complacent. We know they're going to be right there."