Hornets' Nicolas Batum (ankle) expects to play Game 1 vs. Heat

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Nicolas Batum, who missed the regular-season finale with a sore left ankle, said he expects to play in Game 1 of the Charlotte Hornets' first-round matchup with the Miami Heat.

"I'll be fine," said Batum, who also missed back-to-back games in early April with a left knee sprain.

The 27-year-old missed 12 games in his first season with Charlotte, during which he has averaged career highs in points (14.9) and assists (5.8). He also averaged 6.1 rebounds, and his 1.68 real plus-minus ranks ninth among NBA shooting guards.

"Unless we get a setback, I think he'll be fine," Hornets coach Steve Clifford said. "We're going to do more contact [Saturday], but we did some defensive drills and stuff and he was fine. So I think he'll be good."

The Hornets visit Miami for Game 1 at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Traded last summer after seven seasons with the Portland Trail Blazers, Batum has had a greater role this season and has helped lift Charlotte's offense, which was ranked 28th last season, into ninth place.

"That gave me one more day to take care of my ankle," Batum said about avoiding a Saturday game. "And that really gives us one more day to get ready for this team."