Chandler Parsons has missed the past six games because of soreness and swelling in his right knee injury.
But the Dallas Mavericks are optimistic that the fourth-year small forward will be ready to play when they open a best-of-seven first-round playoff series at 8:30 p.m. Saturday in Houston against the Rockets at the Toyota Center.
After Thursday’s practice, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said of Parsons: “We don’t know anything for sure, but the hope is to have him available for Game 1, and in terms of the number of minutes, I don’t know that either. We’ll just have to see. That’s a communication thing and I’m going to have to do a good job of getting him in and out as he gets tired.”
While Parsons’ status for Game 1 remains up in the air, Carlisle said guard Devin Harris will play against the Rockets. Harris suffered what he calls “turf toe” on his left great toe when he jammed it against the foot of Utah’s Jeremy Evans during Monday’s loss to the Jazz, and missed Wednesday’s game against Portland.
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As far as Parsons goes, the Mavericks could use the 15.7 points a game he has averaged this season. The 6-foot-10, 230-pounder has been doing exercises, but hasn’t gone through a full practice to where the Mavericks feel comfortable putting him in a game.
“It hasn’t been an NBA game yet where there are a lot of unpredictable movements,” Carlisle said. “You can simulate an NBA game as much as you want to on the bike or the treadmill or running on the court with nobody around, but it’s not the same as chasing [Houston’s] James Harden and Trevor Ariza around.
“That’s just a fact. So again, I’m optimistic.”
Whenever Parsons does return, Carlisle doesn’t realistically expect him to immediately dive in and be able to play the 33.1 minutes per game he averaged this season.
“Well, a seven-game series is two weeks — this is a long series,” Carlisle said. “Coming off of this injury, you can’t just jump back in all at once and expect to be into the thick of it, be the same guy.
“It’s got to be done the right way. Again, I’ve got to do a good job with seeing how he’s doing in terms of fatigue, whether he’s having problems with the injury or whatever, and we’ve got to get him in and out.”
Carlisle also has to be mindful that Parsons has suddenly become an emotional lightning rod in Houston — the team he played for in his first three seasons before signing a free agency contract with the Mavericks last summer.
In the Mavericks’ two games in Houston this season, Parsons was booed every time he touched the ball.
That scene will probably be repeated in the playoffs.
“The playoffs are supposed to be emotional, and it’s emotional because everybody cares,” Carlisle said. “But to be clear and reiterate this one more time because I’m not sure everybody got it [Wednesday] night, this isn’t Parsons against the Rockets.
“It’s the Mavericks against the Rockets. That’s the clear picture that we have to maintain and sustain in our mind. That’s what this series is.”
The Mavericks, in conjunction with We R One Clothing Company, will use WE ARE ONE as their official playoffs slogan.
Fans are urged to wear royal blue to home games during the playoffs. Each fan will receive an exclusive WE ARE ONE T-shirt in their seats at home games.
The Mavericks will be on the road for Games 1 and 2 at Houston and will return to American Airlines Center for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is April 24. Doors open at 4 p.m. and tip-off is 6 p.m. Game 4 is April 26, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. followed by an 8:30 p.m. tip-off.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760