DALLAS – Brendan Haywood is still the Mavericks’ starting center.
Coach Rick Carlisle made it clear that Haywood’s benching for the start of the second half in Game 2 is not a trend that will continue. Carlisle typically refuses to reveal his starting lineup until required by the league 16 minutes before tip-off, but he said Haywood would remain the Mavs’ starting center for Game 2.
“He’s started every game all year that he’s been available,” Carlisle said. “We’re not going to change that now. The second half the other night, it’s an outlier situation. It was a gut feel and I went with it, but tomorrow night Wood’s going to be our guy again.”
The 7-foot, 263-pound Haywood, who took over as the starter after Tyson Chandler’s departure in free agency, played only 9:54 in Game 2. He finished with the game with two points, one blocked shot and no rebounds.
Oklahoma City starting center Kendrick Perkins, who is usually not a scoring threat, had seven of his 13 points in the first quarter.
“I played nine minutes last game, so the impact is going to be minimal that game,” said Haywood, who had four points, seven rebounds and a blocked shot in 19 minutes in Game 1. “My whole thing is just to do the same thing. I'm not trying to get out of character. Perkins got open early last time when we had some switches, he switched on Dirk [Nowitzki] a couple times and was able to take advantage. But we're trying to win the game; we're not trying to win any individual matchup.”
After Game 2, Carlisle cited energy and quickness as reasons that influenced his gut feeling to start Ian Mahinmi for the second half. Asked if Haywood needed to play with more energy in Game 3, Carlisle said: “I just think that guys need to do things that they’re capable of doing. When Brendan is out there, we need him to play his game and give us what he can.”
Haywood has taken a professional approach when asked about his playing time.
“I'm fine, that's a coach's decision,” Haywood said. “This is the playoffs; you might play nine minutes, you might play 29. Be ready either way.”