LOS ANGELES -- Expect Mavericks starting center Brendan Haywood to see a significant bump in minutes today against Lakers big man Andrew Bynum. Where that leaves lanky Brandan Wright is a key issue, especially if these two teams meet in the first round of the playoffs.
Wright has been sensational recently and racked up minutes against teams that play smaller lineups with the exception of playing 36 minutes against the burly Grizzlies when Ian Mahinmi was out during the birth of his daughter.
"We don't want to get in that situation if we can avoid it," coach Rick Carlisle said of Wright defending Bynum. "He was in that situation last game [against the Lakers] because Wood was out. We'd rather keep bigger-bodied guys on Bynum if we can. If we have to go smaller, he'll be on him."
With Haywood injured during the last meeting, the Mavs double-teamed Bynum, averaging 35.4 minutes a game, early and often. The 7-footer finished with just nine points on five shots, but Kobe Bryant had 30, Pau Gasol scored 27 and Ramon Sessions went for 17.
Could Wright find time at power forward guarding Gasol now that Lamar Odom is out of the picture? Wright has seen limited time at power forward since Odom's departure, but Carlisle clearly prefers the 6-foot-10 leaper at center.
"It's possible, it's possible. We have to see how things are going in late first, early second quarter," Carlisle said of the power forward option. "That's a possibility, but it's not something that's a for-sure definite because of the dynamics of this game. But, we'll see, we'll see. Last game without Haywood it put is in a difficult spot with our smaller big guys having to guard Bynum."