Cavaliers-76ers Preview

The Associated Press

If all goes according to plan Friday night, Andrew Bynum will do something he didn't do once last season in Philadelphia - suit up.

It just won't be in a 76ers uniform.

After not playing a second for Philadelphia due to his ailing knees, Bynum figures to be on the court Friday night for the Cavaliers in the opener of this home-and-home set.

Following a surprising run to the Eastern Conference semifinals in 2012, the Sixers hoped Bynum would be the missing piece that would turn them into a regular contender, giving up Andre Iguodala, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic and a first-round pick to get him in a four-team deal.

There were problems with Bynum's knees from the start. The Sixers held him out of training camp as a precaution, and various timetables - often set by Bynum - came and went with nothing to show for his rehabilitation.

The Sixers (3-2) welcomed Bynum with a public press conference that whipped hundreds of fans into a frenzy. Without playing a game for the Sixers, he said he wanted to make Philadelphia his home - and the team was ready to commit.

Instead, they spent almost $17 million for nothing.

''If I could've played, I would've,'' Bynum said Thursday. ''And that's where that's at.''

He signed a two-year, $24 million with Cleveland (2-3) in the offseason - only this season is guaranteed - and has played in four of the Cavaliers' first five games off the bench, totaling 22 points and 14 rebounds in 51 minutes.

Bynum is expected to play Friday in front of what figures to be a hostile Philadelphia crowd before sitting out the return leg of the back-to-back Saturday in Cleveland. But he said he feels ''sharp pains'' in his knees and they were sore after a dunk in Wednesday's 109-104 loss at Milwaukee.

Bynum said Thursday that he flirted with the idea of retirement before signing with the Cavaliers and that it's tough to enjoy playing basketball because of how he feels physically.

''It's still career-threatening,'' he said. ''I'm a shell of myself right now on the court. I'm just struggling mentally. I'm trying.''

The team he'll see Friday night was expected to be one of the NBA's worst, but Philadelphia surprised nearly everyone by beating Miami, Washington and Chicago to start the season.

Since then, however, the 76ers have given up a total of 33 3-pointers while losing to Golden State and the Wizards at home by a combined 34 points.

"We got people's attention (with our start), but we still have to get done what we need to get done," first-year coach Brett Brown said after Washington made 18 3s in his team's 116-102 defeat Wednesday.

What the 76ers must do is improve a defense that's allowing 108.4 points per game. Opponents have taken an average of 30.2 3s against Philadelphia - by far the most in the league - and made 12.2 (40.4 percent).

"Teams are going to be hot (shooting) like that, and that can't be an excuse," said rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams, who had 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds in Wednesday's loss. "We have to figure out a way to make them go cold, make adjustments along the way."

Cleveland has shot 41.0 percent and averaged 86.6 points while losing two straight and eight of nine against the 76ers. The Cavaliers have dropped four straight at Philadelphia by an average of 14.8 points.

The Cavs lost their sixth straight road game and 12th in the last 13 away from home in Milwaukee on Wednesday. Though Cleveland reached 100 points for the first time this season, it failed to contain a Bucks squad from hitting half of its 72 shots.

Milwaukee went 13 of 23 from long distance.

"Mentally, I don't know where we were mentally," coach Mike Brown said. "Physically, I don't know where we were physically. (The Bucks) came out and just did what they wanted to do. We are going to have trouble winning like that on the road.

"If we need to get in front of a home crowd just to play with a sense of urgency we are going to be in trouble. Teams are too good in this business. We have to figure out what it takes to win on the road and right now as a group we don't know how to do that. That is disappointing."

Kyrie Irving finished with 29 on 10-of-20 shooting and made all but two of his six 3-point attempts. He averaged 15.3 points while making 36.9 percent of his shots in the first four games.

The point guard has averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 turnovers while shooting 30.2 percent in four games against the 76ers - all losses.

Philadelphia's Evan Turner is scoring 22.2 points per game this season, but he's averaged 9.0 in five home games versus Cleveland.