Remember Spencer Hawes? Starting center for the Sixers. Had a terrific start to the season and was a big reason as to why the team got off to such a tremendous start. He's missed over a month of action now, but he seems close to putting on the uniform again.

After this morning's shootaround in which the Sixers prepared for tonight's home game against the Boston Celtics, Hawes met with the media for the first time in a few weeks. He looks good, not having put on any weight during his absence. In fact, he says he's even lost a couple of pounds.

"It's been encouraging the last couple of days to go out on the court, move around and not even think about it," said Hawes of his strained Achilles'. The first time I tried to come back (a two-game stint) I was definitely favoring it. This time, checking with everybody who is observing me, they're telling me it looks like it's back to normal pretty much.

"The last couple of days I've been back on the court doing a lot of drills, mostly in the halfcourt. I think tomorrow maybe try and progress to some more running and then go from there. Last week was just cardio, having the boot off and getting into the weight room and doing things without limitations."

Sixers coach Doug Collins, whose seen his team's offense sputter tremendously without Hawes, had targeted sometime next week for his big man's return. Hawes hopes that's on target, but was cautious as to making a prediction.

"Hopefully," said Hawes of a return next week. "I don't like putting an exact date on it, but it is feeliing better and it's definitely getting close. The hardest thing in the world is watching (games) without being able to do anything. When you're playing you can control some things. When you're watching, you can't. That's the really frustrating thing."

When asked if he talked with Hawes, Collins said they had a brief meeting and that Hawes said he's getting excited for a return.


Evan Turner and Nik Vukevic will remain in the starting lineup for tonight's game against Boston, coach Doug Collins said. Turner and Vukevic also started Monday against Milwaukee.