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Cleveland Cavaliers

Guess What Joe Smith's Role Is...Playing Tonight

By George Thomas Published: March 6, 2009

Some might wonder where the minutes that Joe Smith will play will come.
You won't hear Zydrunas Ilgauskas complain about losing a few.  Ditto for Anderson Varejao.  Coach Mike Brown said as much today when asked if Smith would see action tonight against the Celtics:

I'm going to try.  I'm probably going to throw him out there.  Being gone as long as he was, he’s going to be a little bit behind offensively, but we really won’t know defensively until he gets out there into the flow of the game. He’s got to react.  We’ll see if it’s instinctive or if he’s got to think about it and he gets there a little late.
Smith gives Brown some much needed flexibility and depth with his big men, even more so once Ben Wallace returns from injury.  He'll also be able to dial back Ilgauskas and Varejao's minutes, but guess who's going to take the big hit?  The rookie.  J.J. Hickson.  Since Wallace went down his minutes are up significantly and they are about to vanish.
When the Cavs lacked that depth at those positions, they almost had to have Hickson ready to contribute during the playoffs.  Once Wallace - who is expected to return for the playoffs - is back and providing they stay healthy, that's less the case.
Hickson has grown throughout the year, but if you listen closely to Brown and pay attention to the way he chooses his words regarding his rookie big man, it's easy to discern that he's not exactly ready to trust him right now, primarily because of his defense.
If Smith can show that he still knows the defense, you can expect him to gobble up Hickson's minutes - quickly.
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