Brendan Haywood plays in Game 4
Haywood, who left Game 2 with a strained right hip flexor and did not play in Game 3, said before the morning shootaround that he was feeling better. An MRI exam confirmed that the swelling in the hip had gone down significantly.
"We don't know how it's going to go," coach Rick Carlisle said after confirming that Haywood would attempt to play.
The hip has especially bothered the 7-footer when he attempted to sprint during Game 2. Carlisle said he hoped that adrenaline would help Haywood deal with any pain.
"If I can sprint and change directions, we'll give it a try," Haywood said Tuesday morning. "You can't be in a Finals game if you can't sprint and change directions on the court."
Haywood had averaged 3.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks in 16 minutes per game during the playoffs. He's been a valuable paint protector for a second unit that features a few scorers who have defensive limitations in Jason Terry, J.J. Barea and Peja Stojakovic.
With Haywood sidelined, third-string center Ian Mahinmi got his first significant playing time of the postseason in Game 3. Mahinmi had two points, one rebound and five fouls in eight minutes in the Mavericks' 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat. The Mavs were outscored by six points with Mahinmi on the floor.
Haywood's work in the last few days has been limited to light shooting, jogging and conditioning on the exercise bike and in a pool.
"It feels good walking around, but I don't think LeBron (James) is going to be walking much out there," Haywood said with a laugh. "I wish he was walking. His walk is like my run anyways."
Tim MacMahon covers the Mavericks for ESPNDallas.com.