Brendan Haywood expects to return Friday

Mavericks center Brendan Haywood is ready to return from a sprained right knee, but he expects to wait one more day to play.

Haywood said during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben and Skin Show that the tentative plan is to wait until Friday night's game against All-NBA center Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Haywood has missed the last six games entering tonight's Finals rematch against the Miami Heat.

"I think the training staff is leaning toward having me play tomorrow, because with it being a back-to-back and us playing Dwight in Orlando tomorrow, I think they really want me out there more that game than this game," Haywood said. "In your first game back from injury, it’s tough to come back on a back-to-back. I think right now, I could probably play tonight, but I think they’re leaning toward holding me out and having me play tomorrow, get my minutes and have a couple days rest and then play the next game."

Haywood's work will be cut out for him upon his return. After defending Howard, his defensive assignments next week will be the Clippers' Blake Griffin, the Grizzlies' Marc Gasol and/or Zach Randolph (twice) and the Trail Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge.