BREAKING: Andrew Bynum will play tonight.— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) March 11, 2014
Originally, Bynum was rumored to return later this week against the Philadelphia Sixers, but with Ian Mahinmi sidelined due to a bruised rib it appears that there is no greater time than the present for the seven footer to finally suit-up for the Blue and Gold. After having not appeared in game action since the Cavaliers faced off against the Atlanta Hawks on December 26th, Agness reports that the Pacers' plan is to have Bynum play in short spurts during his initial return to the court.
Although Candace Buckner of the Indianapolis Star reports that Bynum said he is, "probably at 80%, but good enough to go," there may not be a better opponent for the former Laker to face in his first game as a Pacer. The Celtics (ranked 16th in total rebounds and 20th in blocks), to their credit, are riding a two-game win streak behind the elite playmaking of Rajon Rondo, but they are significantly undersized at the center position with Jared Sullinger and/or Kris Humphries anchoring their front court. As such, it may be as good of an opportunity as any for the oft-injured center to get his feet wet with his new teammates and adjust to a new system.
During the 24 games he played with Cleveland, Bynum averaged 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks in 20 minutes of game action. Certainly, after the Pacers were only able to muster four total points out of their bench against the Dallas Mavericks, any potential scoring punch from the second unit will be welcomed. After missing the entire 2012-2013 season due to injury, Andrew Bynum will finally be teaming up with fellow former Philadelphia Sixer, Evan Turner, for the first time. With Ian Mahinmi (bruised rib) and C.J. Watson (elbow) out, the 76ers reunion may actually get some extended run time.
Of course, expectations for any player who has not played since December should be tempered; however, Frank Vogel did say after practice on Saturday that Bynum, "looked good." Who knows, perhaps the Pacers' midseason acquisition will be just the burst of energy they need to get back on track after a four game losing streak.