Mar 11, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT
The Andrew Bynum era is about to begin in Indiana.
While Bynum himself had said he planned to return Friday — in Philadelphia, where he will be poorly received after his non-playing stint there —Pacers coach Frank Vogel up that timeline at shootaround Tuesday.
Pacers backup center Ian Mahinmi is sidelined with a bruised rib, so Bynum is forced into action a little earlier than expected. He will get backup center minutes (or at least some of them).
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Bynum will try to help the Pacers stop a four game skid, one caused by the fact they have gotten away from their defensive identity. In their last five games the Pacers have allowed 111.6 points per 100 possessions, 16 points higher than their season average.
When healthy and focused Bynum is an upgrade over Mahinmi — even in his stint in Cleveland Bynum scored at twice the pace of Mahinmi (15.1 points per 36 minutes for Bynum compared to 7.2 for Mahinmi). Also, Bynum can be a good defensive rim protector when engaged.
Ultimately Mahinmi and Bynum are polar opposites — Mahinmi has limited skill but is known for constant hustle and effort, Bynum has a lot of skill and ability but his effort is questioned as is his desire to play through knee pain. The Cleveland Cavaliers took a flier on Bynum at the start of the season and midway through decided what he brought was not worth $6 million for the second half of the season and shipped him out.
Bynum was a good gamble for Indiana, a $1 million risk that could pay off with a decent backup big man. If not, well, at least he doesn’t join the Heat.
Tonight we see the start of the Bynum era in Indiana, and we start to see if it can last.
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