Bynum has 'pain,' but doesn't feel it's a setback

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Bynum has 'pain,' but doesn't feel it's a setback

We’re 50 games into the NBA season and there is still no sign of the real Philadelphia 76ers. According to Andrew Bynum in his weekly Monday press briefing, there really is no target date for when we will get a look at the real version of the Sixers.

Bynum spoke again before Monday night’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Wells Fargo Center and shed no new insight for the only two questions that folks want to know about.

There are:

When are you going to practice?

When are you going to play?

The answer to both, according to Bynum, is he doesn’t know.

“I’m not sure,” Bynum said when asked if he was going to play in a game by the end of February. “We’ll have to see if I had a setback or not. Right now, things are going well. I’m losing weight and staying on the court for as long as I can, so that’s good.”

Things are progressing for Bynum in his basketball-related activities. He is able to run all out on the basketball court with the full brunt of his 305 pounds crashing onto the floor. He can do defensive slides and he can make cuts. He also can shoot the ball from every spot on the floor, including in the paint where he can jump into the air and cram it through the rim.

Those are all good things.

However, Bynum has neither engaged in a full-contact practice nor worked out with another player during his shooting or low-post drills. He hasn’t been pushed under the basket or felt the sting of an elbow while battling for a rebound.

That’s not so good.

In fact, Bynum said he slowed down his workouts ever-so slightly because of something he called, “pain” in his left knee. No, there was no accompanying swelling with the pain and he wasn’t really sure if it was something he would call a setback. It could be, Bynum allowed, routine post-workout soreness given that he feels no significant pain or anything to sway him from working out the next day.

Once again, Bynum doesn’t know the answer.

“I worked out for two days on the court and I had a lot of pain, so I backed off a little bit today,” Bynum explained. “I’ll be back on the court tomorrow and we’ll progress from there.”

For now, the pain, which Bynum described as a “tingling,” he is experiencing is a mystery.

“I don’t know if it’s normal soreness or if I can play with it or what it is,” Bynum said. “It’s not anything that I haven’t felt, so it’s not new. It continues to go away over time, so that’s all good stuff.”

So, about that return, Andrew … when is it going to be?

“When I’m on the court, I’ll be ready,” Bynum said. “I’m trying as hard as I can. It would suck to play through pain, but sometimes you have to.”

The bottom line is Bynum is not ready to play yet. But when that day comes -- whenever it is -- Bynum says he’ll be ready.

After Game No. 50 against the Clippers on Monday night, the Sixers face the Bucks on Wednesday night before heading off to the All-Star break. A week from Wednesday, the Sixers open the second half with Game No. 52 in Minnesota.

Where will Bynum be then?

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Nerlens Noel to get one-on-one experience while Sixers on road

Being immersed in the team is important for Nerlens Noel, and so is continuing his rehab. 

While the Sixers are on the road for three days to play the Grizzlies and Pelicans, Noel will remain in Philadelphia to work out at the training complex in Camden, New Jersey. The team is not scheduled to practice in between games, so staying back allows Noel another day to get on the court.

“[I want him to] just start playing more and have a ball in his hands, get hit, physical, feel people, play one-on-one,” head coach Brett Brown said.

Noel has yet to play this season because of elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October. He rejoined the Sixers after completing the first phase of his rehab in Birmingham, Alabama. There still is no timetable for his return. 

Brown has said there is a “classroom” element to Noel’s return. He has to learn a roster with new players and schemes. 

The on-the-court side of it is a reacclimation to the intensity of the league. Regardless of how many games Noel already has played in the NBA, there is an adjustment period getting back into the grind of the competition. Brown believes the time in the gym this week will help Noel prepare for the level of intensity he will face in his return. 

“It’s such fool’s gold to think somebody’s going to jump back into NBA basketball after you haven’t played for so long. I don’t care how athletic he is,” Brown said. “It’s a man’s world, this league, and there’s a physicality and there’s a real-time reaction you have to have to play in the game. You can’t make that up in practice, you can’t make that up playing one-on-one, but you can better position him instead of just going out to get shots. I want him to feel a body, get hit, hit back, play one-on-one, those types of things.”

Noel had been assigned to the Sixers’ Development League affiliate, the Delaware 87ers, to get in practice time when the Sixers had a game. The Sixers may forego another assignment and keep Noel at their facility as the Sevens also have two games in the next three days. 

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

Joel Embiid finally struggles in Sixers' loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

Joel Embiid has been making the NBA look easy. Rookie of the Month honors, five double-doubles in 13 games, seven performances of 20 points or more … all having missed the last two years rehabbing from foot injuries.

Embiid, though, still is a player learning the league. Night’s like Monday’s lackluster showing are going to happen, even if it seemed unexpected against the struggling Denver Nuggets. 

“We’ve been used to seeing Jo have superhuman nights,” Brett Brown said after the Sixers’ 106-98 loss (see Instant Replay). “I thought Joel was down tonight.” 

Embiid tallied a total 16 points (5 for 15 from the field, 1 for 3 from three, 5 for 6 from the line) with four rebounds, one assist, a career-high five blocks, three turnovers and three fouls in 25:32. 

He had a quiet first half with six points (2 for 5 from the field) and one rebound in 9:21. The biggest struggle came in the third quarter. Embiid scored a single point off a free throw and shot 0 for 6 from the floor. By the end of three, he was shooting 18.2 percent. 

The big man said he needed to be better at passing out of the double team. He committed two turnovers in the third. 

“I wasn’t getting to my spot and I wasn’t getting what I’m used to getting,” Embiid said of the first three quarters. “I’m going to go back and watch the tape and see what I did wrong.” 

Embiid bounced back for another Embiid-like offensive effort in the fourth. He dropped nine points off an efficient 3 for 4 shooting in 7:31. Still, it wasn’t enough. 

“I made a couple shots,” Embiid said. “It didn’t help us win, so I don’t think it matters.”

Brown noticed Embiid rushing his game. He also thought Embiid’s balance was off, something the big man has been dealing with all season as he continues to find his legs. 

Embiid will not play in Tuesday's game against the Grizzlies. It is part of his workload management in which he does not play both games of a back-to-back. Expect him to hone in on game film until his next matchup, and get back on the roller coaster that can be a first year in the NBA. 

“It's just part of a young man's growth,” Brown said. “It just happens. I don't think we need to read too deeply into it. I think, in many ways, to expect from time to time not as good of a performance as we have been used to is fair enough.”