Shane Battier, Eddy Curry still sidelined
MIAMI -- Miami Heat forward Shane Battier and center Eddy Curry are expected to miss Wednesday's final preseason tuneup against the Orlando Magic as they continue to recover from injuries that have sidelined them during training camp.
Both veterans went through conditioning drills as the team practiced Tuesday at AmericanAirlines Arena. Battier is nursing a left quad strain he sustained in practice early last week, and Curry is out with a strained left hip flexor he injured during the second practice of training camp.
Battier and Curry will have missed both of Miami's preseason games against Orlando as well as the Heat's public scrimmage Thursday.
Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said Tuesday the team is taking a cautious and methodical approach in the recovery of both players, even as Miami begins preparations for Sunday's season opener on the road against the defending champion Dallas Mavericks.
You would love to be at full strength to start the season, but we'd rather be at full strength to end the season.” -- LeBron James on injuries
to Eddy Curry and Shane Battier
"We are increasing their workload and they are making progress," Spoelstra said. "We are thinking all big picture, so we are not in a rush or a panic mode. We have time. We want to make sure they're healthy enough to build up the workload each day."
Neither Battier nor Curry has been ruled out for Sunday's game at Dallas, but that target date for a potential return appears to be in jeopardy.
The setbacks to Battier and Curry come at a time when the Heat are already short on depth, as forward Mike Miller and guard Eddie House are out indefinitely following offseason hernia and knee surgeries, respectively. That means LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have had to prepare for the season without as many as four potential rotation players available.
Battier was signed to the three-year, $9 million "mini mid-level" exception, partially to provide depth on the perimeter in Miller's prolonged absence. The Heat knew Curry would be a long-term project when he was signed to a non-guaranteed one-year contract for the league veteran's minimum two weeks ago.
Still, it's a predicament the Heat's Big Three have grown accustomed to after going through most of last season with Miller and forward Udonis Haslem lost to injuries.
"You would love to be at full strength to start the season, but we'd rather be at full strength to end the season," James said. "That's something we've already become accustomed to. When those guys are healthy and they're ready, they'll be back into the lineup. It would be good to have them out there."
The injuries could mean a heavier burden earlier in the season for James, Wade and Bosh. All three players spent additional time after Tuesday's practice working with the Heat's strength and conditioning staff.
Battier said his familiarity with the Heat's system should allow him to make a smooth transition back into the flow when he's cleared to play.
"As a 10-year veteran, I'd like to think I can pick up the game pretty easily," Battier said Tuesday. "It's going to take time for me to get my conditioning back and to fit in with these guys. I've had a couple of days, but I'm not entirely comfortable with the guys yet and the system. The good news is that we have a lot of games and I should be able to pick things up pretty quickly."
The process could take a bit longer with Curry, who says he has lost about 70 pounds since he last played a meaningful role in the league three years ago with the New York Knicks. The Heat's staff is putting Curry through twice-daily conditioning sessions to help him recover from the injury, as well as to lose more weight and hit a target range of about 300 pounds.
Curry said he's lost an additional 10 to 15 pounds since training camp opened on Dec. 9 and hopes to be cleared soon to help fill the Heat's huge void at center, where Joel Anthony is the only other experienced player at the position on the roster.
"I'm definitely doing a lot more each day -- just not as fast as I want to," said Curry, who meets with Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley daily for updates. "I'm doing every single thing they're asking me to do."
"My day starts 2½ hours before practice when I get here. I open it up and close it down every day," he added. "After being away from it so long, I'm doing everything I can to be back in it. When I come back, I feel like I'll be able to get out there and just go to work."
Michael Wallace is an NBA writer for ESPN.com.
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