“Mentally, I’m chomping at the bit and physically I’m getting there,” he said. “I’m very optimistic I’ll be able to play on Sunday.”
Nash received an epidural injection on April 16, but admitted he is still not pain free. He has yet to sprint full speed, though, and acknowledged as much post practice.
“Not full out,” he explained. “I was able to play halfcourt today, and there were a couple situations where it was pretty close to a sprint, so it’s coming. In some ways, I want to give myself as much time as possible, but at the same time you can’t wait forever. Just trying to play that timing game, let the medicine work, (rely) on myself to heal and recover and at the same time, be prepared to play without blowing it out again.”
It’s been nearly three weeks since the 6-foot-3 point guard last played significant minutes in a game – at Milwaukee when coach Mike D’Antoni pulled him early in the second half. The following contest at Sacramento, Nash started but played just two minutes before exiting for good.
“There’s still a lot of movements to work through,” Nash said. “That’s going to take some time. Getting used to some of the pain, some of the inhibition and trying to work through it and get myself back to where I’m capable.”
With Nash injured, Steve Blake started all eight games in April, averaging 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists, while shooting 41 percent on 3’s. The last two home games against San Antonio and Houston, he posted a combined 47 points, 12 boards and 11 dimes.
“Steve has been phenomenal and filled in not only for myself, but for Kobe and for our depth,” Nash said of his backcourt partner. “He’s made a lot of shots for us. He’s a fighter. That’s such a valuable thing on your team.”
Should Nash be able to go on Sunday, D’Antoni stated “it’s a possibility” both him and Blake would start together in the backcourt.
“I’m just hoping to be able to play, get out there and contribute,” Nash explained. “That’s the bottom line. I’m just really hopeful and working hard – pretty much twice a day the last few weeks – to get back, and hopefully the time has come.”