Battier (knee) expected to miss a few games
Miami Heat forward Shane Battier confirmed Monday he has suffered a sprained right knee ligament, and teammates are preparing to be without him for a few games.
Battier sustained the injury when he landed awkwardly after a teammate fell into him in the third quarter of Saturday's win over Cleveland. He immediately hopped off the court, headed directly to the Heat's locker room and did not return to the game.
The Heat are officially listing Battier as day to day, but coach Erik Spoelstra suggested after Monday's practice that the designation was extremely optimistic.
The Heat are in the midst of a rare four-day break in the schedule and don't play again until the San Antonio Spurs visit Thursday.
LeBron James said Monday that Battier likely would miss "the next couple of games" of a homestand that continues Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets. Battier missed the final 14 games of the 2009-10 regular season when he was with the Houston Rockets after sustaining a sprained medial collateral ligament in his left knee.
"I'm sore, but overall, I feel pretty good," Battier said after Monday's practice at AmericanAirlines Arena. "I think it could have been a lot worse than it was. I've sprained an MCL before, so I knew what it felt like. I knew exactly what it was. It wasn't as severe this time."
Battier said he will be re-evaluated after a few days of extensive treatment once some of the swelling subsides. Battier, considered a key cog in the Heat's dynamic small-ball lineup, moved into the starting lineup full time during the playoffs last season.
When Chris Bosh returned in the Eastern Conference finals, he shifted to center and Battier remained at power forward in a lineup tweak that helped to propel Miami to an NBA title.
Battier scored nine points, all from 3-point range, in 21 minutes Saturday before he left the game against Cleveland. Through 13 games, Battier has averaged 7.0 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 44.8 percent from 3-point range, the second-best mark of his career.
Spoelstra would have a number of options to replace Battier in the lineup, from inserting Joel Anthony at center and moving Bosh back to power forward to remaining small and versatile by going with a shooter such as Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller or Ray Allen as a starter.
But Battier's combination of defensive versatility and long-range shooting stroke will make him difficult to replace.
"Other guys will have to step up in those intangible categories," Spoelstra said. "It'll come down to who will replace all of those little things that (Battier) does arguably as well as anybody in this league. I'm an optimistic guy. All I know is I'll have a lot of anxiety if Shane doesn't play. I hope we don't have to find out how much we'd miss him."
The Heat routinely have had to adjust to lineup changes because of injuries. Bosh missed significant time during last season's playoff run, and Dwyane Wade has already missed three games this season with nagging injuries.
Battier's likely absence will alter the Heat's approach, but it's nothing the team hasn't faced and overcome in the past.
"It's unfortunate we're not going to have Shane for the next few games," James said. "But we have enough guys who can step in and make plays ... and fill in. So we'll see."
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