LOS ANGELES—Four years into his NBA career, Andrew Bynum is still trying to make it through his first full postseason.
The oft-injured Los Angeles Lakers center went through a limited practice Wednesday for the first time since having his balky right knee drained on Monday.
"It didn't really help," he said. "As soon as I drained it, about 12 hours later all the fluid came back."
As a result, the swelling that has plagued Bynum isn't any better, either. His big black knee brace remains a constant companion, as does the pain in his knee.
"It's going to be there when I come down from jumping, push off laterally, missed shot, trying to go get a rebound after the fact," he said. "The muscle is kind of shutting down because of the swelling, so it's tough to jump and do everything at your maximum level."
Still, Bynum is determined to try, especially because he was helpless to stop the Boston Celtics' pummeling of the Lakers in the NBA finals two years ago. He was hurt and only along for the bus ride back to the hotel after the Celtics won the title on their home court.
Bynum will get a chance to help his teammates avenge that stinging defeat starting Thursday night when the Lakers host the Celtics in Game 1 of the finals.
"He's going to give everything he's got again just like he's been doing," fellow 7-footer Pau Gasol said.
Bynum had to content himself with watching from the bench Wednesday as the Lakers scrimmaged, his heavily wrapped right leg stretched out in front of him. Even then, he wasn't paying total attention while chatting with shooting coach Craig Hodges. Coach Phil Jackson took notice.
"Saw that Drew?" he asked.
Bynum admitted he hadn't seen the play, so Luke Walton walked over and filled him in. Later, Bynum left the floor to seek treatment on his knee while his teammates practiced free throws. He said he doesn't plan to have his knee drained again.
He's playing with a small tear in his meniscus that was discovered during the opening round against Oklahoma City. He's started all 16 of the Lakers' playoff games, averaging 9.1 points and 7.7 rebounds but playing only 24 minutes per game. He's sat out most recent practices after series wins against Utah and Phoenix.
Bynum is trying to get by until he can have knee surgery after the finals. It will be his third major knee surgery since becoming the youngest player ever drafted four years ago.
"His knee is tore up, man," teammate Shannon Brown said. "I watch him and when he does show the pain, I kind of feel sorry a little bit. But I understand what he's doing and why he's doing it. Kudos, and I hope he doesn't mess it up even worse trying to help us win the championship."
Bynum missed the entire 2008 postseason after going up for a rebound in a game and coming down on teammate Lamar Odom's foot.
"When I saw it happening, it was kind of surreal to me. I was just part of the crowd really," he said.
In January 2009, Bynum tore the MCL in his right knee and missed 32 games. He returned just as the regular season was ending, giving him barely any time to prepare for the playoffs.
Still, he earned his first NBA championship ring when the Lakers beat Orlando in the finals despite being limited by the same awkward brace on his knee that he wears now.
"Players tend to be healthy once the finals start no matter what their injury status is, and you know that," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "We're viewing him as 100 percent and a factor in this series."
The Lakers want Bynum focused more on defense than offense, using his size to fend off Rajon Rondo's flashy drives to the basket and tangle with Kendrick Perkins in the post.
"It's going to be a tough challenge for me, but it's one that I'm ready to accept," Bynum said. "I want to be effective, I want to help my team, I don't want to miss anymore time."