By Matt Leon

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Sixers will go for a 4th straight win tonight as they visit the Indiana Pacers.  They will also welcome center Spencer Hawes back to the line-up after missing 17 games with a strained left Achilles.  Hawes also missed 11 games earlier this season because of Achilles/back problems.  His returns is big for the Sixers, because it just seems like good things happen for Philadelphia when Hawes plays.  They are 12-2 in the 14 games he’s suited up for this season and just 13-15 when he has been sidelined.

Hawes spoke to KYW Newsradio today about getting back on the floor.

“It’s been awhile.  I’ve been counting down for the last couple weeks, especially since I’ve been out of the boot, being able to come back and get out on the floor.  So I’m definitely thrilled to be back out there tonight in Indianapolis.”

He talks about his expectations for his return.

“There’s some limits on minutes, but I’m trying to look at it like a regular game and have the mindset like it’s any game, without the restrictions.  But it’s kind of hard knowing that they are there, in the back of your mind.  But it’s something you just have to get past.  I kind of learned my lesson coming back and playing too many minutes last time, I think, so take it a little easier and hopefully soon be back to 100% with regards to no limitations.”

So what did the strained left Achilles prevent him from doing?

“It was really just getting up on that toe.  You could kind of fake it if I ran heel-toe, but when I had to sprint or make cuts or quick movements, getting up on the ball of my foot, it just wasn’t there.”

Listen to the entire interview with Spencer Hawes:

Sixers are 25-17 and they enjoy a 2 1/2 game lead over second place Boston in the Atlantic Division.  The Pacers are 24-16 and Hawes says they pose a tough challenge.

“Definitely a good team and well-rounded, they’re kind of like us in that they have a lot of different guys that, depending on the night, can hurt you.  Obviously a big team, physical team, and we have to be ready to match that.”

Sixers and the Pacers tip-off tonight in Indianapolis at 7:00pm.

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