Signing Andrew Bynum may have been a sly tactic to keep him off the Miami Heat roster, but it was nonetheless a smart risk for Larry Bird and the Indiana Pacers. The risk seems to work in Indiana’s favor when Bynum is on the floor as they are 2-0, but that’s the problem: getting him on the court is easier said than done.
Indiana signed the former All-Star and NBA champion on February 1, and he spent a little over a month rehabbing in hopes to get back to his Los Angeles Lakers form. Bynum looked good the two games he did play in, but was marked as being out indefinitely with swelling and soreness in his right knee. Keeping him rested until the playoffs was a smart move, but it seems like Bynum could be riding the bench for at least the first round series against the Atlanta Hawks.
Head coach Frank Vogel told the media after Thursday’s practice that Bynum will miss the first round of the postseason, but there’s “still a chance (he plays in the playoffs),” via Scott Agness of Pacers.com.
Bynum is very valuable when he is available, but the Pacers’ bigs should be fine without him seeing as they have played the majority of the season without him. Roy Hibbert has struggled mightily in recent months, but Vogel also noted Thursday that the Big Dawg looked more confident than he has in the past during stretches of struggle. Assuming Hibbert is starting during this first round, Ian Mahinmi is a very capable backup who has done a good job playing off the bench for the Pacers this season.
There is no doubt that Bynum can be a game-changer for Indiana, but keeping him rested and ready for a potential series vs. Miami later on is more important than getting him on the floor right now. The Pacers have a very good chance at making a deep playoff run this season, and having Bynum could play a big part in that as long as he isn’t rushed back too soon.