Steve Nash responded well to his first full-contact practice on Thursday, and again completed a full practice on Friday afternoon before the team flew to San Francisco in advance of Saturday’s game against Golden State.
In short, Nash said there’s “a chance” he will play in that game, but said he will “for sure” be ready for the Christmas game against New York on Tuesday. He’s officially listed as a “game-time decision” for the Warriors, even if some optimism abounded from his teammates at practice that he’s looked strong and could certainly make a positive impact if he’s ready to play.
“I think he’ll change everybody’s game a little bit because of his facilitating skills and he’s such an unselfish player that he’ll find the open guy and he’ll make the right play,” said Pau Gasol. “He’ll create a flow for us offensively and it’ll give us energy. That will translate to good defensive possessions, too, and it’ll cut down on transition points.”
Below is a full transcript of Nash’s comments after Friday’s practice:
Q: On how he felt physically at practice:
Nash: It felt pretty good. Obviously there’s a little soreness after not doing anything for seven weeks, but I can’t complain. It’s getting better, so I’m optimistic I can put this behind me.
Q: On if there was anything that caused him any more stress on the injury:
Nash: Not really – just the overall stress, contact and all the different forces that I didn’t face for seven weeks. It takes a little time, but I also feel I responded fairly well.
Q: On whether he’ll play at Golden State:
Nash: We’ll see. I’ll have to talk with everybody not only how I feel tomorrow, but if fits in the big term picture. There’s a chance I play tomorrow, but Christmas for sure.
Q: On what will determine if he plays at Golden State:
Nash: I think, one, if I feel good tomorrow after two days of practice and what the trainers, coaches and everyone thinks about (me) playing. This is two days of basketball in seven weeks. It’s not a home run that I just go out in an NBA game. I’m going to see how it goes tomorrow and talk to everybody, but I’d say the odds are low.
Q: On where he’s at in terms of basketball game ready:
Nash: Well, right now, it’s pretty much completely basketball with rehabilitation in mind. There are stages getting myself back up to speed that I can’t cheat. You can’t cut any corners. You have to go out and play and try to retrain your body for the demands, and then get your game and your fitness levels up to the standard.
Q: On who he thinks he can help most when he comes back:
Nash: I never really try to single out one person. For me, I try to be aggressive, put pressure on the defense and make the right play. If we can all play that way, we’ll make each other better and everyone will benefit from it. My goal is to be aggressive, put pressure on the defense and make the right play.
Q: On if he’s felt like himself the last couple days:
Nash: Surprisingly, I felt better than I thought. Obviously there are still some growing pains to get through.
Q: On the challenges Golden State presents:
Nash: They’re having a great season regardless. They’re playing terrific at home, but they have wins on the road as well. Everyone knows they have shooters and David Lee can cause mismatches up front. I think they have a great spirit this season. Their coach has built chemistry with the players and the players have a real understanding of what he wants. They believe in him and I think it’s put them in a position where their spirit is good every night and it gives them a chance to win.
Q: On Mike D’Antoni’s starting lineup and whether it’s his job to accentuate the skills of the players on the floor:
Nash: Yeah, and I think they both are good players and they can help the team depending on the situation. It’s not something I think about – you play with your teammates and you play with whoever is on the floor. They’re both terrific players with good skillsets, so it’s just a matter of all of us being comfortable with one another and then it won’t matter as much who is on the floor.
Q: On Metta World Peace accepting his role off the bench:
Nash: It’s a pleasure to play with someone like Metta (World Peace). He’s a guy that plays hard every day, every game. He’s tough mentally and physically. He’s a great person. He’s accepted his role coming off the bench with grace and that’s the kind of leadership you need – a veteran guy that can say: ‘You know what? I have no problem coming off the bench.’ You have guys like that on your team, you have a chance.