Steve Nash may be 38 years-old, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni is willing to give him heavy minutes. Nash recently came back from knee injury, but D’Antoni is ready to do whatever it takes to help this Lakers team win games.
In Nash’s first two games back from injury, he averaged 39.5 minutes per game, heavy minutes for a player in the late stages of his career. The Lakers did win those first two games, and Nash did average an impressive 14.0 points and 10.0 assists per game.
D’Antoni spoke to the ESPN Los Angeles and he talked about how he will be playing Nash moving forward. The Lakers obviously need to get back to a proper form, and D’Antoni sees that Nash is one of the players that can get the Lakers back on track.
“Yeah, because I will get killed if I say no,” D’Antoni said with a chuckle. “He’s only 38, come on. Here’s how I look at it: I agree, we should get it down to about 34 [minutes per game]. Is three minutes playing better than having a day off the next day? I’m pretty liberal about giving him a day off and don’t practice him and making sure he is ready to go. Is it better to go ahead and practice for an hour and a half or give him three minutes on the floor? I go the other way. I think it’s more important that he plays, obviously. But, we will watch it, and as [Steve] Blake comes back and we get a little bit more comfortable about where we are, then I can cut it down a little bit more.”
Steve Blake is 2-3 weeks away from getting back on the court, and the Lakers will surely value the minutes he can provide. Blake has the ability to run the Lakers’ offense well and he can also allow Nash some time to rest on the bench.
Once Blake does come back, D’Antoni should make an effort to get Nash some rest. If the Lakers want to make a push for the Finals, Nash has to be ready physically. Wearing Nash out in the regular season will have dire consequences for the Lakers during the playoffs.