The Dallas Mavericks could take the floor Sunday night without backup center Brendan Haywood according to a report from “ESPN.com” as they take on the Miami Heat in game three of the NBA Finals. Haywood strained his right hip flexor Thursday night as the Mavericks defeated Miami 95-93 in game two of the match-up. The big man left the floor during the fourth quarter of the game due to the pain and never returned.
The backup center was on the sidelines Saturday when Dallas participated in contact drills and a full speed workout. Haywood was restricted to shooting free throws as well as working on his shooting during the practice session. He told reporters “Every time I moved, it felt like something was popping. I had to go sit down. I had to get out of there. I couldn’t do anything at that point. I would have been hurting the team. It’s one of those things where we’re just going to wait and see what the body says. I’m going to wake up in the morning and hopefully be miraculously healed. I’m just going to do everything they tell me to do to try to be ready.”
If Haywood is not able to play Dallas may turn to third-string center Ian Mahinmi who has barely played during the team’s Playoff run. Another option for the Mavericks would be to play with a small lineup whenever starting center Tyson Chandler is not on the court. Shawn Marion then would most likely be pressed into logging minutes in the pivot. Dallas coach Rick Carlisle told members of the media Saturday “We’ll have Mahinmi ready, or we can do some things with smaller lineups.”
The series is tied at 1-1 with the next three games of the Finals to be played in Dallas.