If the Dallas Mavericks are going to come back in the 2011 NBA Finals, it appears increasingly likely that they will need to do so against the Miami Heat without one of their sturdiest big men, Brendan Haywood.
Haywood, who missed Game 3 with a hip injury, is now a game-time decision for Game 4 in Dallas on Tuesday night, according to Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle. Haywood played double digit minutes as Dallas' backup center in all but two of the Mavericks' playoff games until Game 3, and is averaging 3.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.
But while Haywood's statistical contributions don't seem like much, his imposing seven-foot frame helps Dallas' interior defense significantly. Without Haywood, the Mavericks may have to turn to little-used Ian Mahinmi again, and his Game 3 performance left a lot to be desired: in just eight minutes, Mahinmi managed to commit five fouls and score just two points, both on free throws. Oh, and he allowed LeBron James to throw down one hellacious dunk.