Bench role or not in the playoffs, Carmelo Anthony is still staying Melo

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Bench role or not in the playoffs, Carmelo Anthony is still staying Melo originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest

The Trail Blazers have depended on Carmelo Anthony’s clutch shooting and veteran leadership time and time again during his two seasons in Portland.

Even in his new bench role this year that hasn't changed. 

And now in the playoffs, his role seems heightened, but his approach isn't changing. 

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While Portland finds itself in a 2-1 hole to Denver in the best-of-seven First Round matchup, Melo has already provided the off the court help of making sure the Blazers as a team don't get too high or get too low.

That has been Anthony and the Blazers mantra throughout this First Round series. 

Now that Portland has tightened up their rotation as many teams do in the postseason, Melo has seen his minutes decrease ever so slightly.

But that hasn't made a difference in Melo's mentality. 

Nothing. It’s still the same. My approach is the same that I’ve had all season.

Carmelo Anthony

The 18-year veteran averaged 24.5 minutes per game during the regular season.  

Now he's averaging 22.8 minutes per game in the first three games of the playoffs.  

While the clock was winding down in the final 40 seconds of the third quarter of Game 3, Norman Powell checked in for Melo.  

It was apparent on Anthony’s face he didn’t want to come out of the game as he had helped his team cut into the Nuggets lead with a timely three.

But that proved, once again, that Melo wants more than anything to be out on the court helping his team find ways to win. 

Melo is averaging 13.3 points through the first three contests on 41.4 percent shooting to go along with 2.3 rebounds. But during this First Round series, Anthony knows it’s about his own preparation and how he can help his teammates be dialed in that is key.

“I just think my awareness and my focus it’s a little bit tighter, a little bit stronger right now in this postseason.

“There’s a lot of details that go into these playoff games and preparation. So my level of awareness, level of focus is very high when it comes to that.”

And he is prepared for any and all challenges.

Even if that means defending MVP candidate Nikola Jokic. Which we saw in Game 3 with Jusuf Nurkic getting into foul trouble.  

“It was only a couple of possessions," Melo said. "I thought we got some stops during those possessions. Is that something we would go to? Who knows? I don’t know at this moment. We’ll let the coaching staff decide that.”

I enjoy the challenge. I always embrace those moments and embrace those challenges -- whatever you ask, whatever you need. If I have to guard him, I’ll guard him.

Facing a 2-1 deficit in the series, means this veteran group of Blazers realizes what needs to be done as Melo noted after the team wrapped up practice Friday.

“The mentality is we know that we have to win that game tomorrow and that will be our approach and I’m sure you guys will see that.”