DALLAS – Watching Brendan Haywood knock down shots on the practice floor Monday makes it hard to believe the Mavericks’ backup center isn’t ready to play in The Finals.
The shooting drill didn’t require much movement, though. And movement is Haywood’s major issue right now. He strained his right hip in the Mavericks’ Game 2 win over the Heat in Miami and missed Sunday’s Game 3 loss here at American Airlines Center.
Ian Mahinmi replaced him in the rotation and there’s no doubt the Mavericks’ low-post defense took a step back. Haywood was coy about his status for Tuesday night’s Game 4. He said he was scheduled for a second MRI this afternoon and that his status would not be updated until some time Tuesday afternoon, making him a game-time decision for the second straight game.
“It’s a little bit of everything,” Haywood said. “The hip is one of those areas; it’s in charge of a lot of stuff. It’s in charge of your lateral movement, it’s in charge of when you’re taking off and running and stuff like that. So, it affects me in just all movements basically … the hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone.”
Jokes aside, Haywood’s in serious enough pain that he can’t get on the floor in the biggest series of his NBA career.
“I’m able to move at a little better clip, so we’ll see how it feels,” Haywood said after finishing his shooting work Monday. “Really, really striding out is a problem and sometimes making explosive plays under the basket is a problem.”
An even bigger problem for Haywood is being forced to watch his teammates work in The Finals and not being able to do his part. And the 7-footer was a factor in Game 1. He’s played 16 minutes a game throughout the postseason as Tyson Chandler‘s backup. His presence on the floor would make a huge difference against a Heat team that loves to attack the rim.
“I need to be able to go out there and feel like I can play a normal game or at least at 70 or 80 percent,” he said. “If I feel I’m pulling something or something’s straining on every play, then I probably don’t need to be out there. We’ll see how it goes.”
When asked if he would be able to play if the Mavericks had a game Monday night, Haywood got playful with his answer.
“It’s a good thing we don’t have a game tonight,” he said and then smiled. “Today wasn’t a good indication of where I’m at, because this was some really light stuff.”