The Los Angeles Lakers' roller-coaster of a season could very well end up with a coveted trip to the postseason, but that trip won't be advancing past the first round.
Steve Nash's most recent injury won't allow it.
This isn't to suggest that Nash won't be available in the postseason; there is still a chance he will be.
The Los Angeles Times' Eric Pincus reported that Nash won't be available for the season finale as he misses his eighth game with hamstring issues.
However, he also passes along that head coach Mike D'Antoni is "cautiously optimistic" that Nash can return soon. D'Antoni added that "he's not ready today. We'll see on Sunday or Saturday, if we can get that far."
Now, on to getting that far. The Lakers are going to have a difficult time just making the postseason without Nash's services. They host the Rockets on Tuesday night in a huge showdown. If the Lakers win, they will claim the West's seventh seed.
If they lose, they will be hoping for a loss by the Jazz, who play at the Memphis Grizzlies, or they will miss out on the postseason altogether.
Beating Houston is not going to be easy, but the Lakers get them at home, and they are 28-12 at home this season while the Rockets are 16-24 on the road.
After that, the picture looks far more bleak—no matter if it involves the Lakers being the seventh or eighth seed.
While Nash may be back, we are still talking about a 39-year-old with a pesky hamstring. That baby could go at any moment. Even if he does manage to make the action, he won't have any court time with his teammates as they adjust to life without Kobe Bryant.
If the Lakers are the eighth seed, they will face the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the are the seventh seed, their opponent will be the San Antonio Spurs. Both of these teams are excellent on the defensive end.
The Lakers, meanwhile, are 20th, and the chances of them beating anyone with defense are slim. This means they will have to rely on offense to advance, and that is no easy task against the Thunder or Spurs.
While Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard are finally figuring out how to play together, the Lakers will need a far more complete offensive attack to beat those defenses.
Nash could certainly help give them this attack, but with a little rust and the new Kobe-less dynamic, it will take some time for he and his teammates to gel.
The Thunder and Spurs are far too good for the Lakers to survive while working on a learning curve.
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