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Brendan Haywood wearing bulky knee brace

MIAMI -- Brendan Haywood says his knee still feels a little unstable, but he won't know whether he's playing until game time Thursday night against the Heat.

If he does, he'll be wearing a bulky brace on his balky right knee. He's missed the last six games.

"I'm close," Haywood said, "We'll look at it and see how it feels, especially with a back-to-back. I'm going to have to wear this offensive lineman brace, if I do play. I feel like I'm blocking for Peyton Manning."

Earlier Thursday, Haywood told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben and Skin Show that the tentative plan was to wait until Friday night's game against Orlando to return.

The Heat isn't a team that revolves around its low-post game, so the Mavs could decide to let Haywood return Friday night against Orlando's Dwight Howard.

Rick Carlisle said there's a chance Haywood will play, but it depends on how the game is flowing. It's a lot easier to work Haywood into the rotation than it is Delonte West because Haywood is a starter and Ian Mahinmi and Brandan Wright have had their minutes fluctuate all season.