Brown's future depends on Wade's health

Monday, June 6, 2005

MIAMI -- Dwyane Wade's health could play a part in Larry Brown's immediate future.

Wade's availability for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals between Miami and Detroit tonight was still unknown on Sunday, but whether the Heat's leading scorer can play may be a major contributing factor whether Brown will be coaching for the final time.

The winner of tonight's game advances to the NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, while the loser will have the whole summer to wonder what went wrong, and why.

In Brown's case, he'll head to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., shortly after the Pistons' season ends -- as soon as Tuesday, or as late as June 24 -- to address a medical problem that developed after complications from hip surgery. If surgeons are not able to correct it, Brown plans to retire from coaching.

So there's a lot riding on Game 7 for both teams, but more so for the 64-year-old coaching nomad than anyone else.

"I told my wife before the game there was a thought [that it might be his last game], because you have so much time it seems before games," Brown said Sunday before the Pistons traveled to Miami. "So hopefully we can keep playing."

There was no official update Sunday on whether Wade will be available for the biggest game in franchise history. The team said the situation with Wade's strained ribcage muscle was "status quo."

Wade's agent, Henry Thomas, said the decision to sit out Game 6 was made after Wade consulted with the Heat's medical staff. Thomas said Wade was "feeling better" Sunday, but it was "too soon to tell" if he would play tonight.

Detroit played its best game of the series in defeating the Heat 91-66 Saturday night to even the series at three games apiece.

Wade's teammates couldn't come close to winning without him in Game 6, finishing with the lowest postseason point total in franchise history.

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