Andrew Bynum looked good against the Celtics Tuesday. It was simple and clear. When basketball coaches say “you can’t teach height” Bynum showed exactly what they mean — matched up on Jared Sullinger and Brandon Bass, Bynum just grabbed rebounds and made shots right over the top of them. He was too big, too physical.
Bynum shot 3-of-4 for 8 points and had 10 rebounds, showed some nifty passing out of the post, played solid defense and generally he looked like what the Pacers hoped they were getting. He was part of the reason the Pacers snapped a four-game losing streak 94-83 against an overmatched Celtics team.
The question for those anyone who has watched Bynum before is this: Can he keep it up?
Bynum has had great games before (including in Cleveland earlier this season, before they traded him), good stretches while he is focused, only to revert to his disinterested form.
He told the Indy Star he felt good in his 15 minutes spaced out over four quarters.
“I felt great. Couldn’t do anything wrong today,” the 7-foot, 285-pound strongman said.… “All the rebounds came my way and I just grabbed them.
“Looking forward to the next game.”
The Pacers still plan to go slow with Bynum, as they should.
Bynum was forced into action with Ian Mahinmi out with a bruised left hip. Bynum showed a skill level and a brute physicality that Mahinmi cannot match, he showed why when healthy and focused he is an upgrade for them in the paint behind Roy Hibbert.
Pacers fans should be hopeful, this is certainly more than Philadelphia got out of Bynum. And Bynum will be motivated — he is a guy more driven by money than many and he is playing for his next contract. Yes, playing on a winning team matters to him as well, but he took mental vacations when Phil Jackson was his coach, too.
In the end that’s really the question — what Bynum will the Pacers get night to night? One good game against an undersized front line is one good game. He needs to do it repeatedly, then into the playoffs. He’s capable, and if he does it the Pacers just got better.