DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks didn't want to pin Sunday night's Game 3 loss on the absence of backup center Brendan Haywood, but there's no question it stretched Rick Carlisle's rotation thin behind starter Tyson Chandler. Little-used Ian Mahinmi couldn't stay out of foul trouble in his first significant postseason stint.
"It made it tougher for us because [Haywood is] a regular rotation guy," Carlisle said after the 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat. "I thought Mahinmi's energy was good. At times maybe a little too energetic, but that was expected. We'll see how Brendan is for Game 4, and that's a day and a half away now. He's been doing better, so when we get to that point, we'll see where we're at."
Chandler did grab 11 rebounds (his high of the Finals), blocked three shots and was whistled for just two fouls. But with Mahinmi logging only eight minutes and picking up five fouls, Chandler was forced to bang against the Heat's physical front line of Chris Bosh, Udonis Haslem and Joel Anthony for 40 long minutes. He was averaging 31.1 minutes in the postseason coming into Game 3.
Don't think the Heat didn't notice what Chandler had to go through without Haywood, who's been solid throughout the playoffs, backing him up.
"Yeah, it's tough," Bosh said. "When you know your backup center is down and you're the only center on the team, yeah, it's extremely tough. But I mean, he had a good game. No matter what happened, he still put his imprint on the game. We're going to have to do a better job of containing Tyson on the rebounds if we want to win this series.
"We're going to make the adjustments, and we just have to come out and do a better job and pay attention to detail."
The Mavericks did outrebound the Heat 42-36, but Miami enjoyed a huge 40-22 advantage in points in the paint. Could Haywood have made a difference inside?
"He's definitely missed because he brings a big presence for us," Chandler said, "but I don't want to say that's the reason we lost tonight, because we had opportunities to win."
As for Mahinmi, the third-year third-stringer was baffled by the quick fouls he picked up. Had Carlisle been able to milk a few more minutes out of the 24-year-old Frenchman, perhaps Chandler would have been fresher down the stretch.
"I was very surprised by some of the calls," Mahinmi said. "Some of the calls were good, some I didn't think I foul the guy, but obviously when they blow the whistle, they blow the whistle. There's nothing you can do."