Finals Story Lines: Haywood Questionable, Celebration Responses, Foul Trouble
DALLAS (AP) – Dallas Mavericks backup center Brendan Haywood was going nowhere fast during practice Saturday.
Haywood, who came out of Game 2 of the NBA finals early because of a strained right hip flexor, spent much of the Mavericks’ practice riding a stationary bicycle. Other than that, he was limited to spot-up shots and free throws with no contact or full-speed work.
His status for Game 3 against Miami on Sunday was uncertain.
“I feel a lot better than yesterday. I don’t know what that means for tomorrow,” said Haywood, who purposely fouled somebody to stop the clock when he was hurting early in the fourth quarter Thursday night.
Coach Rick Carlisle said well-rested Ian Mahinmi would be ready to play if Haywood isn’t available. The Mavs could also go with smaller lineups.
Mahinmi has appeared in three of the 17 playoff games, playing only six minutes since appearing in 56 regular season games.
When the Mavericks got back to Dallas on Friday, Mahinmi said he went straight to the gym.
“I’ve prepared myself a lot since we came back from Miami. I didn’t take no break,” he said. “I’m watching a lot of film. … I’m doing everything to make sure that I’m ready mentally and physically. If my name is called, I’ve got to step onto that court and be confident and do what I do.”
FLYING CELEBRATION: After the Mavericks completed their comeback from a 15-point deficit to win Game 2, guard Jason Terry said they were motivated by how Miami exuberantly responded in front of the Dallas bench to a 3-pointer by Dwyane Wade.
“This is coming from a guy, Jason Terry, who acts like a plane every time he makes a free throw,” Udonis Haslem said. “So come on, what’s excessive celebration? … The guys makes a layup and acts like a 747. Is that excessive? Nobody complains about that.”
Terry, whose nickname JET is based on his initials, will be on his home runway Sunday when the series moves to the American Airlines Center in Dallas for Game 3. The fourth and fifth games are there as well.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is more concerned about his team’s lack of execution those final 7 minutes than talk of any premature celebrations.
“Another storyline,” Spoelstra said Saturday. “We have enthusiastic guys, excitable players. I would certainly rather have that than a bunch of zombies.”
FOUL TROUBLES: Miami forward LeBron James wants to shoot more free throws in the NBA finals. And Dallas coach Rick Carlisle would not mind that, either.
(We’ll explain that second part in a moment.)
James has taken only six foul shots in the first two games of this series against Dallas. It’s only the third time all season where James shot six free throws in a two-game stretch. To put that in some perspective, he shot at least six in a single game 72 times during the regular season and playoffs.
“Six free throws in two games — I do that in my sleep,” James said Saturday.
He’s been credited with five dunks in the series, and Carlisle said Saturday that he’d like to see the Mavericks do a better job taking that away, even if that means challenging James with more force at the rim.
“Look, there are a lot of situations I wish we would send them to the foul line and not allow them to go up and tear the rim down with dunks,” Carlisle said. “That’s hard. The thing is if he gets to the launching pad and he gets that kind of force going, even if you foul him, he’s going to finish.”
When James shoots at least nine free throws, the Heat are 35-9 this season. When he doesn’t, they’re 35-17.
Along with the dunks, James has also made six 3-pointers in the series.
“Oh, he’s making those, too, I forgot that part,” Mavs guard Jason Kidd said. “He’s making 3s, laying the ball in, so there’s no way we can put him to the free throw line.”
TOUGH TICKET: Demand for tickets to Game 3 of the NBA finals increased dramatically for the series shift to Dallas after the Mavericks’ big comeback to avoid coming home down 0-2.
By the middle of Saturday afternoon, there were less than 700 tickets listed on Stubhub. The cheapest ticket was $340 for an upper level seat in the corner near the top of American Airlines Center.
The building was full during Game 2 for a free watch party. There were so many people who showed up that about 1,200 had to watch the game on screens in the plaza outside the building.
“It was crazy,” said Steve Letson, vice president of operations and arena development for the Mavericks. “It really had the feel of a game if you were in there. Even the people that hadn’t been here, this was just as good as a game for them.”
NO HOME VISIT: The only significance of being home in Dallas this time for Miami’s Chris Bosh is that he’s playing in the NBA Finals. Family and friends will have to wait until the series is over to see him.
“My family, they know I love them, and I’ll see them later,” Bosh said. “I just have to focus on what I’m supposed to do right now, and they understand that.”
Bosh has shot only 27 percent (9 of 34) from the field in the NBA finals.
“I just have to play basketball. I’m putting too much emphasis on where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do,” Bosh said. “I just have to play. I’m good enough to where I can just trust my instincts and not have a specific game plan.”
WADE IN DALLAS: Dwyane Wade has one win at Dallas in seven tries since joining the NBA.
Ah, but it was a big win.
Wade’s only victory on the Mavericks’ home floor was June 20, 2006, when the Heat clinched the NBA title with a 95-92 victory. He’s 0-4 at Dallas in regular-season appearances, which doesn’t even include four other games — also all losses — he didn’t play. And the Heat dropped two games in Dallas to open the 2006 finals.
“Obviously, we did something great here,” Wade said. “We won one game here. It was the biggest game in our franchise history up until this point.”
AP Sports Writer Tim Reynolds contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)