Just the Box: Cleveland 88, Portland 80

This will be a frequent column here at Sons of Nev, my take on the Cavs game that just took place on any given evening. It’s called “Just the Box” because, being that I am not in the Cleveland market, I can’t watch the game. I will also avoid watching any highlights until I post this to give a complete analysis without having watched a play. Why is this valuable? Well, sometimes it becomes difficult to notice the details of games when you watch them; the details that only the box score contains.

Cleveland 88, Portland 80

— Lebron’s line: 24 pts (team high), 10 reb (team high), 11 ast (team high). Seventh double double this year, seventeenth of his career. This guy is obviously a talent, and he still is obviously not getting much help. I know we’re going to have to wait to get all of these guys back that are injured, but it still looks like LeBron and everyone else out there.

I take that back to some degree. Joe Smith putting up 18 points and five boards. Seems like Drew Gooden could have done the same thing. The knock has always been on Gooden that he’s so inconsistent, so lets see if Smith can put up close to 20 every night, which will be hard considering he only played 26 minutes because Ben Wallace was hurt. This guy needs more minutes, especially when Z gets back, for a few reasons:

1. Z is an above average passer as a big man, problem is he hasn’t had a consistent guy on the low block to chuck the rock to, well, ever. Joe Smith could be that guy.

2. Smith can hit free throws (8-8 tonight). That matters, especially down the stretch. If you can put the lineup of Gibson, Sasha, LeBron, Smith, and Z on the floor late in the game, you sacrifice nothing, and you put five guys on the floor that can consistently (at an 80% clip) sink them from the line.

3. Regardless of Z, this guy has to be the hungriest newest member of the Cavs. Smith has the dubious honor of being on more teams than any number one overall selection in the history of the NBA. He’s been in the league 13 seasons, made it to five playoffs, never getting out of the first round. He lands on a crappy Chicago team and thinks he may never have a chance to hoist that trophy. This is his opportunity, let the guy play.

We got away with Brandon Roy not turning it up a notch. The kid only had nine points in the second half, six if you don’t count the meaningless three he hit with 0:22 left in the fourth (ok, so I look at the play-by-play too). Roy has proven this season that he can lead a team, and normally players like Roy can turn it up in the fourth quarter. Especially when players like him play LeBron, it becomes a back and forth sniper match. That never happened, but give Roy another year and it just might.

— I’m sure this has been said before, but the Blazers are going to be set in the frontcourt for years to come once Greg Oden is healthy. LaMarcus Aldridge had 25 points and 10 points tonight. If you factor in that Roy should be a 22-25 point guy next year, Oden can come in, get 10 and 10 (which shouldn’t be a tall task) and fit right in. The West is a rough road, but this team will be a force if they can stay healthy.

— Both teams missed a boadload of shots. Blazers shot 39.7% from the field, Cavs 42.9%

I’ll take the win, that’s for sure. Next game is Wednesday night at New Jersey. Great, just what Cavs fans need, LeBron hanging out with Jay-Z again, on the heels of Simmons incredibly convoluted “What If” column.

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