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The Miami Heat expect to play without veteran G/F Shane Battier for the next two games after he injured his right knee in Saturday's win over the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Battier told the Miami Herald Monday that he injured the medial collateral ligament in his right knee on Saturday when teammate Udonis Haslem fell on Battier's ankle, causing his leg to bend awkwardly. He left the game afterward and did not return.
"I think it could have been a lot worse than it actually was," Battier told the Herald about his injury. "I've sprained my MCL before, so I knew what it felt like. I knew exactly what it was." The injury reportedly did not require Battier to undergo an MRI, which is a good sign.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has not ruled out Battier for Miami's next game (Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs at home), but LeBron James revealed that Battier's injury is likely to keep him out for at least the Spurs game and Saturday's home date with the Brooklyn Nets.
"It's unfortunate we’re not going to have him for the next few games," James told the Herald. "But we have enough guys to step up and come in and make plays."
Battier had started all 13 games for the 10-3 Heat at the power forward position, even though he is considered undersized for the position at 6'8". A long-range shooting specialist, he is averaging 7.0 points and 2.5 rebounds per game on 45% shooting. He is shooting a stellar 46% from three-point range (13th in the NBA), where he has attempted 59 of his 67 shots this season.
For the Heat's game against San Antonio on Thursday, James could shift to power forward, with Rashard Lewis taking his spot at small forward. Alternatively, Spoelstra could insert Haslem or Joel Anthony in at power forward. Those two would offer more from a defensive standpoint, while Lewis' three-point acumen is a better stand-in for Battier offensively.