DALLAS – Mavericks backup center Brendan Haywood was going to try sprinting up and down the court and changing directions Tuesday afternoon to see if his injured hip has healed enough for him to play in Game 4 of the NBA finals a few hours later.
The decision would be pretty simple.
"If I can sprint, I'll play; if I can't sprint, I'm hurting the team," Haywood said. "You can't be in a finals game if you can't sprint and change directions on the court. That's being selfish."
Haywood strained his right hip during Game 2 against LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat. Through rest and treatment, the swelling had gone down enough that Haywood thought there was a chance he could return.
He said a follow-up MRI Monday confirmed the initial diagnosis of a strain. He also said he felt better at a morning shootaround Tuesday, "so that's always encouraging."
"It feels good walking around, but I don't think LeBron's going to be walking that much out there," Haywood said. "I wish he was walking. His walk is like my run anyway."
The Miami Heat led the series 2-1.
Haywood wasn't sure whether his test would come after the shootaround or closer to game time. Coach Rick Carlisle was expected to have an announcement at his pregame interview session, about 1½ hours before tipoff.
"These situations where it's something that's acute but kind of a day-to-day thing, a difference of eight or nine hours can be significant," Carlisle said.
Although Haywood had only five points and seven rebounds over 22 minutes the first two games, he's a reliable backup to starter Tyson Chandler. Chandler admitted he played tentatively in Game 3 because he feared getting into foul trouble that would've forced Dallas to rely on third-stringer Ian Mahinmi.
Chandler had only one basket, a rebound dunk in the fourth quarter, while playing 40 minutes in a game Dallas lost 88-86.
"I feel like I can be aggressive out there and still be smart," Chandler said.
Mahinmi scored two points and drew five fouls in eight minutes. Chandler said he expected Mahinmi to play better if needed in Game 4 simply because he'd gotten over any first-game jitters.
"(Haywood) is important to us, obviously," Carlisle said. "We missed him in Game 3. But that's not the reason we lost. Whoever is available will have to play and play well."