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Pregame: Bynum the center of attention

12/28/2013

BOSTON -- The Cleveland Cavaliers' suspension of Andrew Bynum provided a caffeine jolt on a sleepy Saturday morning before the team's matinee with the Boston Celtics at TD Garden.

Bynum suspended by Cavs

The Cavaliers suspended Andrew Bynum indefinitely on Saturday for conduct detrimental to the team and it appears he's headed to the trade block. Story

Simmons: Bynum and Boston?

Bynum was suspended indefinitely Saturday for conduct detrimental to the team. He did not travel with the team to Boston, but the news reverberated in both locker rooms.

From the Celtics perspective, coach Brad Stevens suggested Bynum's absence might help the Cavaliers.

"I think Bynum is a really good player. I think when I’ve watched them, they’ve been better without him on the court in a lot of cases," said Stevens. "That doesn’t mean they haven’t been good with him on the court, in a lot of cases, and it’s certainly nothing against him, but what it does is impacts their defense in a way where they are a little bit more aggressive with a guy like [Anderson] Varejao. And then in our [first] game, I thought Varejao was one of the better bigs that played."

Boston posted a lopsided win in the team's first meeting last month with Jared Sullinger often taking advantage of Bynum's reluctance to step outside to the 3-point line. The Cavaliers will start Varejao and bring a little extra defensive tenacity to that spot.

"I love Varejao," said Stevens. "I think he’s a consummate pro. He plays hard. You know what you're getting every single night. I think he’s a guy that’s been there and done that, that a lot of young players can learn from. He’s not historically an All-Star, or he’s not in the discussion when people talk about the best of the best, but if they had a ranking for most consistent, I bet you they would. I understand and can see why he’s such a highly valued member of their organization."

Cavaliers coach Mike Brown did his best to tip-toe around the Bynum suspension before Saturday's game. Peppered on the length and how the team will proceed with Bynum, he simply went into repeat mode while noting, "I’m not trying to be funny, but everybody knows what indefinite means."

It's when he talked about the rest of his roster that maybe his most condemning comments on Bynum emerged.

"We’ve got 14 guys in our locker room that are really focused and determined and ready to take on any challenge that’s in front of them," said Brown. "They are great guys, focused guys, and they know how to play the game the right way and that’s what I'm focused on, just helping those guys win ballgames."

Later, when asked if he was disappointed in the Bynum situation, Brown added, "I’m worried about the guys in the locker room. It’s simple as that. In our business there are a lot of ups and a lot of downs throughout the season. So what you do as a head coach is keep moving forward. Any time you look back on anything or dwell on anything, it's wasted energy from the guys in the locker room, which is obviously very important."

Stevens noted that sometimes a team can find a spark in a situation like the one facing the Cavaliers.

"Obviously, for [Bynum's] sake and their sake, I hope that in the long term it gets him back, but a lot of times in a case like this, teams play really well coming off something like this," said Stevens. "We’re going to have to be really good today and I don’t think that impacts them in any way that would be considered a negative from their standpoint."