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Carmelo Anthony says anything less than a trip to the Eastern Conference finals would be ‘unacceptable’

Dec 24, 2012, 2:44 PM EDT

New York Knicks Carmelo Anthony keeps ball away from Brooklyn Nets Deron Williams in NBA game in New York Reuters

The Knicks have gotten off to a fantastic start this season, and one that is arguably better than most expected. The team is essentially still at the top of the Eastern conference standings — percentage points behind the Heat, but just one game back in the loss column, with two more wins.

And, let’s not forget that two blowout victories over Miami are a part of those 20 wins New York has piled up through its first 27 games.

Now that the team is somewhat proven, expectations are skyrocketing, especially in the number one media market in country. For better or for worse, the Knicks aren’t backing away from that, and Anthony is the one leading the charge.

In an interview with Stephen A. Smith of ESPN.com, Anthony spells out his vision for the Knicks this year, and the way he sees it, the team should be playing deep into the postseason, at the very least.

From Ian Begley of ESPNNewYork.com:

In an excerpt of SportsCenter’s Sunday Conversation, Smith asks Anthony what he thinks would constitute a successful season.

“Winning the division, getting out of the first round, getting to the Eastern Conference finals,” Anthony says. “I don’t see anything less than that.”

He adds that anything less than a trip to the conference finals is unacceptable.

“I’ll sit here and tell you right now, it’s unacceptable. With the guys we have, with the team we have, with the roster that we have, it’s unacceptable,” he says.

It’s a bit unusual for a team’s star player to come right out and declare a minimum ending point to his team’s season, and one that he would view as a breaking point for making it a success. But a closer look shows that Anthony really isn’t going out on much of a limb here with this one.

A quick scan of the East shows essentially what we knew heading into this season — that the conference isn’t all that deep, and once you get past Miami, New York and Chicago are the only teams that firmly belong in that second tier, and should be the ones battling it out for the honor to face the Heat in one of the postseason’s later rounds.

Chicago should be the only team that the Knicks have to worry about before meeting up with Miami, and that fear should be a legitimate one. The Bulls already give the Knicks fits, and will only be stronger once Derrick Rose returns to the lineup, which is expected to happen sometime near the league’s All-Star break in mid-February.

But should Chicago not finish with one of the top-three records in the East — which is a very real possibility, with Indiana improving, and with Atlanta always willing to pile up regular season wins for essentially no reason — the Bulls won’t be the Knicks’ problem in the playoffs, they’ll be the Heat’s, by virtue of a theoretical four-seed that would land them a date with Miami in the second round.

If things shake out that way, New York should have a relatively clear path to the Eastern Conference finals — which ultimately makes Anthony’s expectations extremely realistic.

  1. fanofevilempire - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    I don’t care how many times we beat Miami or any other team, I want the wins in the playoffs!
    I know Melo is on a mission this year and he has all the pieces to make a run.
    Woody has to keep this thing together and lets see what they can do in June.

  2. jckid21 - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Damn this interview was played on a 15 minute loop on ESPN radio for the past 2 or 3 days and it is just making this website today. In other breaking news a cure for polio has been discovered.

  3. patfic15 - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:54 PM

    Why stop there, Melo?

  4. patfic15 - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    With some of the aging vets on the squad, I’m sure they would prefer to hear the actual Finals themselves.

  5. michaeljordanseviltwin - Dec 24, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Not better than I expected. I bet the over for the Knicks win total. They played really solid defense under Woodson last year and their offense is much improved with Carmelo logging minutes at the 4. The only question is if Amare will disrupt the rhythm they’ve found on offense. I’d be looking for any trade scenario to get Amare out of there, if there’s a team willing to take on his horrible contract.

  6. jamiln - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    Over the past few seasons, we have all been criticizing Melo for one thing or another, but not this year. He is on a mission, and it’s one of the great story lines of the NBA season

  7. jimeejohnson - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    Anthony’s a winner, and has been playing extremely well since the London Olympics, where he literally torched some opponents with a shooting display rarely seen. Having him, LeBron, and Kevin Durant on the same team was awesome. I’m not a Knicks fan or hater. Not sure why Amare and Carmelo cannot complement each other, especially if he comes off the bench.

    Signed: west of I-5 and proud of it!

  8. money2long - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:49 PM

    if melo ever brings a championship to the city of new york…3 words: expect a statue

  9. kavika6 - Dec 25, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    Carmelo has too high of an opinion of himself and his team of mentally unbalanced hotheads.

  10. dysraw1 - Dec 27, 2012 at 8:59 PM

    no the expectations aren’t to high what player is gonna say hey lets not succeed in the second season

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