When the mechanical curtain retracts some 30 feet above the 76ers practice court at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine on Wednesday, reporters, cameramen, and other interested parties likely will hustle to the window for a glimpse of what Sixers fans have been dying to see: center Andrew Bynum finally practicing with his teammates.
The Sixers have targeted Wednesday as the day for Bynum to hit the floor and finally join the team for a series of practices that they hope will lead to his being available for the season opener next Wednesday against ex-Sixer Andre Iguoudala and his Denver Nuggets at the Wells Fargo Center.
Bynum was scheduled for one more injection in his right knee on Monday. After that, the Sixers wanted to give him 48 hours' rest and then give it a go on Wednesday.
The Sixers, fresh off a 98-90 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday, did not practice on Tuesday. They ended their preseason schedule with a glowing 6-1 record.
Bynum's final injection of Synvisc-One is used for the treatment of osteoarthritis. It is a natural substance that lubricates and cushions the joints and is believed to provide up to six months of protection.
Bynum is expected to receive another injection at the all-star break. The treatment is not related to the platelet therapy that Bynum underwent last month in Germany for the arthritis that affects his knees.
"Andrew's doing well," 76ers coach Doug Collins said last week. "He's progressing and on track to where I think he hoped he would be at this time. Obviously, the next step for him is getting running and weight-bearing."
The plan for Bynum's return to the court is for three days of practice beginning Wednesday. Collins expects to give the Sixers a break Saturday and then have them practice the next three days before the team opens the season against the Nuggets.
Bynum was acquired in a four-team trade on Aug. 10. Last season, he averaged career highs in points (18.7) and rebounds (11.8). He also blocked 1.98 shots per game and was named second-team all-NBA.
Bynum's conditioning will be a concern early in the season. Though he has been able to do some cardiovascular work on what Collins has described as an "antigravity machine," there has been nothing Bynum could do to prepare for games.
"A lot of that is going to be how he responds to increased activity," Collins said last week when asked whether Bynum would be ready for the start of the season. "I know how important the home opener is, but we're not going to do anything silly and have another setback where it costs you and now you have to miss" more games.