Joe Johnson vs. Carmelo Anthony


It really doesn’t get much better as far as individual matchups go like this one. As the Brooklyn Nets will square off against their crosstown rival New York Knicks on Friday night at the Barclays Center, Joe Johnson and Carmelo Anthony could see plenty of time going against each other. This could be a lot of fun.

Forget the fact that Anthony is off to a slow start to the season for his standards, 19.6 points per game on 40.6% shooting through the Knicks first four games, he is still arguably the best scorer in the NBA. The guy has the ability to score from anywhere on the court and can catch fire at any point in a game.

The reason for early season struggles on the offensive end can probably be attributed to the Knicks struggling to find their way offensively under rookie head coach Derek Fisher. It looks as though Melo and his teammates have had trouble finding out how to run the triangle offense. Fisher has decided to somewhat abandon the offense in recent games, only going to the triangle set sparingly while running other sets.

Johnson is similar to Anthony in many ways on the offensive side. Johnson has the ability to score in a variety of ways and when he is hot there is practically no stopping him. Through the Nets first four games, Johnson is averaging 22.0 points per game on 50.7% shooting from the field.  He’s also been hot from three-point range, averaging 2.0 makes on his 4.8 attempts per contest, good for 42.1%.

Last season, Johnson struggled a bit against the Knicks. He averaged 16.5 points on just 38.5% shooting from the field. On the other hand, Anthony averaged 22.7 points on 51.1% shooting from the floor in the three games he played against the Nets. He also pulled down 32 rebounds total through those three contests. Most importantly, the Knicks went 3-1 (2-1 with Melo) in the series between the two teams.

Coming into Friday nights game, the Knicks come in with a record of 2-3 while the Nets are 2-2 for the season.

For Brooklyn, it will undoubtedly be a difficult task to stop Melo. Nets coach Lionel Hollins could use a variety of defenders against the superstar. Johnson will likely start the game defending Anthony. Bojan Bogdanovic, Mirza Teletovic, Alan Anderson and Andrei Kirilenko are also candidates to see some time against Anthony.

Johnson will also probably be defended by Anthony for a significant portion. However, expect Fisher to also throw Iman Shumpert and possibly Tim Hardaway, Jr. and J.R. Smith onto Johnson at some point.

At times, though, it really doesn’t matter who is guarding these guys. Johnson and Anthony have the ability to hit the toughest of shots even with defenders draped all over them.

There is one significant difference when it comes to each player’s scoring ability; Johnson doesn’t usually have to carry the load that Anthony does. Deron Williams is still one of the top point guards in the league. Brook Lopez, although he has struggled in his first two games, is among the most skilled offensive big men in the league. Anthony, although he is one of the elite player’s in the NBA, does not have a teammate whose talent is near that of Williams or Lopez.

If, and this is a big IF, the Nets are able keep Anthony under control then they likely win the game. Even if Melo does get red-hot, Johnson has the ability to match him on the other end.