Steve Nash's Return from Injury Breathes New Life into Kobe Bryant-Less Lakers

John Rozum@Rozum27Correspondent IApril 21, 2013

Steve Nash is back.
Steve Nash is back.Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Steve Nash must now carry the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2013 NBA playoffs.

According to Kevin Ding of the Orange County Register, Nash is back to running the point for coach Mike D'Antoni:

This is great news for Lakers fans after Kobe Bryant injured his Achilles tendon in mid April, per Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles:

In addition, L.A. enters the postseason on a five-game win streak and gets a more favorable matchup than at first glance in the San Antonio Spurs. Although the Spurs won the regular-season series 2-1, the Lakers only lost each game by a combined five points.

Nash suited up for one of the contests and shot 50 percent (6-of-12) from the field, dished out nine assists and had two steals. The Spurs have the offense to match Los Angeles, but Nash's overall experience will help dissect San Antonio's defense.

Still, a limited role may occur, as Nash stated in an article by Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com:

"He's [D'Antoni] got to coach this team to win the game and if I'm not helping, and I'm not capable, he's got to get me out," Nash said. "Bottom line: There's no time to be sentimental or to give me too long of a leash. If I can't get it done, I shouldn't be out there."

Coach Gregg Popovich's team averaged just 41.3 rebounds per game (ranked No. 21), so obviously L.A. connecting well from the field becomes an advantage. With a veteran point man in Nash, that only increases the Lakers' odds of consistently finding open looks.

As a result, Los Angeles' offense will pull ahead and get more second-chance scoring opportunities from missed shots. Not to mention the Spurs allow an average of 11.1 offensive boards per game, which ranks tied for No. 16 in the league.

Therefore, expect Nash to pull up from the elbow when an opportunity is presented as well.

Nash taking a few more attempts allows the rest of L.A. to focus on rebounding, which is where the Lakers have a favorable edge. If anything, maintaining ball control to win the possession battle will limit San Antonio's offense from matching pace.

The Spurs average 103 points per contest and definitely feature the personnel to outscore Los Angeles. Having Nash conducting the orchestra just puts a restriction on committed turnovers, as well as forced shots against a tough defense in San Antonio.

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