OKLAHOMA CITY – Brendan Haywood might not be the Mavericks’ starting center the rest of this series.
Coach Rick Carlisle benched Haywood at the beginning of the second half in favor of Ian Mahinmi. The Mavs made their 17-4 run in the second quarter with a small-ball lineup that featured Dirk Nowitzki at center, a look they used much of the second half.
“Adjusting to the series. Adjusting to the level of quickness, energy,” Carlisle said. “Look, it’s not to say that Haywood’s not going to be starting Game 3, but for this game, I felt like that was the way to go. Look, it’s a gut feel, it’s a coach’s decision, and that’s how we go with it.”
Haywood played only 9:54, finishing with two points, one blocked shots and no rebounds. He played less than three minutes in the second half and said he wasn’t given an explanation for being benched.
“No, he doesn’t have to,” Haywood said. “He’s the head coach. He made a decision. … He’s the head coach. He has to make a decision that he thinks will help the team win.”
Haywood brushed off a question when asked whether he was frustrated that he wasn’t on the floor to finish the close games while the Thunder took a 2-0 lead in this series.
“C’mon, man, I’m not giving you nothing like that after a playoff loss to put you down 2-0,” Haywood said. “Stop it.”