Coach looks forward to Bynum's impact on defenses

Posted: January 28, 2013

'EXCITING. EXCITING."

That's what Sixers associate head coach Michael Curry was saying after Sunday's practice. And he wasn't talking about the 97-80 pasting the Sixers had put on the New York Knicks on Saturday. He was talking about the prospect of Andrew Bynum taking the court for the Sixers.

Bynum ran as hard as any media members have seen him run on the anti-gravity treadmill Sunday, and Friday he was alone on the court practicing some low-post spin moves, making hard plants and turns on each of his fragile knees. A return to the court and his debut with the Sixers seems to be a real hope right now. Bynum has stated his hope is to come back sometime around the mid-February All-Star break.

"We were talking about Andrew [Saturday] night," Curry said, "where people have to understand that [from an opponents' standpoint] you totally change the personnel that you've got to play when he's on the court and you totally change how you are going to have to guard . . .

"It's encouraging, as Andrew is doing more and more work. Just watching when Jrue [Holiday] has struggled or Evan [Turner] has struggled, just watching how teams have defended them. And they're doing exactly what you should do. But when you have a great player or a big guy who demands a lot of attention around that basket, you have to defend totally different."

Curry, filling in for Doug Collins, who is battling a sinus infection, went on to talk about how the Sixers' defense on Saturday was geared toward Carmelo Anthony and how it changed with the personnel surrounding him.

"That's what great players do and that's how teams have to adjust to them," Curry said. "That's what we're hoping Andrew can do with us when he is healthy and ready to play. I think it will make the game easier for Evan and Jrue.

"It's exciting. You deal a lot to get him [in the Andre Iguodala trade last summer]. When he's healthy and on the court, he's one heck of a player. The fact that he's starting to do some things in shootaround, his level of activity has picked up and he's here working 3 hours or so, you're going to get excited. And you're also going to start to get ready to do things so that when he comes we're ready to move into the next phase of what kind of sets we're going to run and what personnel we want on the court with him."

A personnel change took place against the Knicks, though it was probably done not to get ready for Bynum but to get the team out of the first-quarter doldrums that have been hindering them.

With Jason Richardson still out with a sore left knee, Collins started Nick Young (20 points in 41 minutes) in the backcourt with Jrue Holiday (35 points) and had Spencer Hawes (four blocks) start at center for Lavoy Allen. The moves were obviously made to kick-start the offense, but the defense was also good in limiting the Knicks to 34.6 percent shooting for the game, including 4-for-27 from three-point range.

"Coach [Collins] has been talking about it for a while," Curry said. "He doesn't just like to change lineups, but he just felt that that group wasn't able to get it done. It wasn't necessarily one guy or another, but more so that group. I just think that both Spencer and Nick have been playing well as of late and they both are offensive threats out there to start the game. Hopefully it can jump-start us.

"No matter what, even if we're not scoring early, we can't get discouraged and let it affect us on the defensive end. We still have to lock in and do a better job defensively and make it tough, especially early in games."

Not known for his defensive abilities, Young is aware of the effort needed to satisfy his coaches on the defensive end.

"They've been pretty tough on me . . . so I have no other choice but to try my best to step up or do something out there on the defensive end," Young said. "They just want me to bring energy, play defense. And if my shot isn't falling, don't lose energy out there; continue to play hard and just help us out there. They said, 'You've got a lot of talent, just bring it out there.' "


On Twitter: @BobCooney76

Blog: philly.com/Sixerville

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