"It's an adjustment, more so a mental adjustment than a physical adjustment."
In his 1,054 NBA games, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony has never come off the bench. That will change tonight when the Houston Rockets host the New Orleans Pelicans in the first game of ESPN's double-header.
During the pre-season, Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni made it known that he hoped to start Eric Gordon with Chris Paul and James Harden, while using Carmelo as a sixth man, who will pair up with a strong defender like James Ennis as much as possible. Although Melo was in the starting lineup for Houston's first couple of pre-season games, the 34-year old forward got a feel for what it would be like coming off the bench once P.J. Tucker returned from injury. Tucker took over his role as the Rockets' power forward in their final three pre-season games and will be starting tonight alongside CP3, Harden, Gordon and Clint Capela.
According to Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle, Melo says coming off the bench for the first time in his career will be more of a mental adjustment than anything.
"It's an adjustment, more so a mental adjustment than a physical adjustment," Anthony said of his minutes off the bench. "That would be the most ... challenging part, shifting your mindset, shifting the way you approach the beginning of the game. The approach to the game is pretty much the same, but you're three, four minutes behind now.
"It (the long stretches that come with playing starter minutes off the bench) is a physical adjustment, but I think I'm in pretty decent shape to be able to handle that. It's something we've been working towards in this off-season and this pre-season, playing that way. It is adjustment for me mentally. For everybody it's an adjustment. It's something new. For the most part, I think we will all enjoy it."
The Rockets and Pelicans are set to tipoff tonight at 8pm ET, airing on ESPN.