Battier improving but doubtful for Thursday

MIAMI -- Heat forward Shane Battier missed his second consecutive practice as he recovers from a sprained knee ligament and is considered doubtful for Thursday's game against the San Antonio Spurs.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said he hasn't made a decision on who will replace Battier as the fifth starter. The Heat worked with two potential replacements in Wednesday's practice alongside LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Mario Chalmers and Chris Bosh.

Spoelstra would not identify those options, but Ray Allen, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, Rashard Lewis and even seldom-used James Jones are among the choices, depending on the preferred playing style.

Battier sustained the MCL sprain Saturday when he landed awkwardly after a teammate fell into him during the third quarter of Miami's home win against Cleveland. He did not return to the game and was initially listed as day-to-day, although Spoelstra suggested that status was optimistic.

“He said he's feeling better, and we'll continue to evaluate him every day,” Spoelstra said Wednesday. “I doubt he'll play tomorrow, but he's day-to-day. I worked a couple of different lineups today. But I don't think it'll really matter, necessarily, in terms of the starter.”

Battier missed the final 14 games of the 2009-10 regular season as a member of the Houston Rockets with a similar sprain in his left knee. But the 11-year veteran said his current injury is less severe. Through 13 games, Battier has averaged seven points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 45.8 percent from 3-point range, the best mark of his career.

Should Battier sit out Thursday, it would be just the second game he has missed since he joined the Heat at the start of last season.

“The biggest challenge is we haven't played without him in a long time, so we have to get adjusted to that,” Wade said. “We're used to what he brings to the game for us. Whoever comes in obviously is not going to be able to bring what Shane brings. We've got to make up for some of the things that he does. We'll miss him, but we have guys to step up.”