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, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor to play Sunday, Joel Embiid out (right elbow)

CAMDEN, N.J. — Two bigs back, one big out.

Nerlens Noel will make his regular-season debut Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Noel has been out since the preseason after undergoing elective arthroscopic left knee surgery in October.

Jahlil Okafor also will return following a bout of gastroenteritis, which sidelined him for the last three games. Neither Noel nor Okafor will have minute restrictions. 

Joel Embiid, on the other hand, will not play Sunday. He will miss the game because of minor inflammation in his right elbow, which he suffered in Thursday’s game against the Pelicans. The decision also is in conjunction with the load management plan the Sixers have mapped out for him. Embiid did not practice Saturday and will not travel to Detroit. 

“It’s very minor and we expect him back soon. Not much concern at all,” Brett Brown said of Embiid, adding, “I think it’s far more precautionary than anything people should get nervous about.”

With Embiid out, the addition of Noel will help the Sixers when they battle the Pistons and big man Andre Drummond, who is averaging a dominating 15.0 points, 13.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks this season. Noel will come off the bench as he gets reacclimated to the team and the flow of the game. 

“I felt great [to be cleared to play],” Noel said. “I was anticipating it so I got my mind right and this is what I’ve been working for throughout the whole rehab process. I’m feeling good and looking forward to it.” 

The Sixers are mindful of the fact Noel has not played in a regular season game since the finale last April. He has been working on getting his wind back up, and the Sixers will watch it closely in-game when determining his playing time. Noel said he has a “good starting foundation” with his conditioning. 

“You can do as much as you want on a treadmill,” Brown said. “You can do as much as you want one-on-zero … but there is nothing that’s like an NBA game. Everything goes faster, everything goes quicker, you have emotions involved which can also drown how fast and how long you can go. Those things are just part of him coming back into it, and we’ll manage him accordingly.”

Noel’s debut is the first step for him, regardless of how many plays. His athleticism will give another look to the lineup. Brown foresees having Noel back will allow the Sixers to play faster and protect the rim with a greater “bounce.” 

“We miss playing with Nerlens, just his presence,” Okafor said. “He’s an athlete. Obviously we miss him on the defensive side. We miss him as a leader vocally. It’s just going to be great having him back on the floor.”

The Sixers could counter the Pistons with the combination of Noel and Okafor, a duo they struggled to utilize together last season. Brown’s decision will be based on matchups. He pointed out a situation in which Drummond and Jon Leuer are on the court would be more favorable than one in which Tobias Harris is playing power forward. 

“You just try to pick your moments where you can maybe pair those guys up,” Brown said. “I think it will be a more genuine conversation as Nerlens starts playing more with us. He’s just really come back into it. But we come back and you play Toronto and you have all three bigs available, then it becomes another level of a conversation. I do look forward to it when we have an opportunity to intelligently match up with other people and we’ll play it out like that.”

The Sixers' next game after Sunday is Wednesday against the Raptors, when they expect to have their bigs ready to go.

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

Sixers' game vs. Kings rescheduled for Jan. 30

The NBA has determined a new date for the Sixers home game against the Kings, which was postponed on Nov. 30 because of unsafe playing conditions on the court.

The game has been rescheduled for Monday, Jan. 30 at 6 p.m. This will create back-to-backs for both teams.

The Sixers are playing in Chicago on Jan. 29. They will play consecutive games against the Bulls and Kings, then have a road back-to-back against the Mavericks and Spurs on Feb. 1 and 2.

The Kings will be on what is now an eight-game road trip. They will play a back-to-back against the Rockets the next night in Houston.