The 2012-13 NBA season was supposed to play out like a dream for the Los Angeles Lakers, but so far, it's been nothing short of a nightmare.
After acquiring two of the most dominant players of the last decade in Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, the Lakers appeared poised to waltz through the regular season and set themselves up for a big-ticket Western Conference Finals showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Unfortunately, three games in, nothing has gone right for Nash's team.
First, Kobe Bryant was questionable for the season opener on Tuesday, and though he ultimately played, he's continued to be plagued by a strained foot.
Then, ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that Nash has a fracture in his left leg, which will force him out of the lineup for at least a week.
Obviously Nash's injury means less in the short term than it would if we were in March or April, but it has long-term implications nonetheless, because unless Nash, Bryant, Howard and Pau Gasol can turn things around soon, their 2013 title hopes will become nothing but a pipe dream.
Andy Kamenetzky of ESPN Los Angeles pointed out that while the team desperately needs Nash back, they can't put a definitive timetable on his return, because they'll need him more later in the season than they do in November:
Obviously, this ain't the news folks hoped to hear when the two-time MVP originally received a day-to-day diagnosis. How soon Nash returns remains to be seen, but given his age and importance, the Lakers must err on the side of caution. Pushing Nash back too early could lead to an even longer absence down the road, a situation this team can't afford to experience.
What's even more troubling than the actual injury itself is the fact that we're roughly one week into the season, and already two of the team's best players are either out of the lineup or playing hurt, and they're bound to lose more guys to injury as the season goes on.
There's no guaranteeing how quickly Nash will recover at 38, nor is there any way of knowing whether it'll be a recurring problem, which is a definite cause for concern.
Without Nash, the Lakers will not be able to keep up with the Thunder, let alone challenge the Miami Heat for NBA supremacy. It'll be difficult for them to rely on a backcourt featuring two aging stars who have been battling injuries only three games into the season.
With a roster as talented as L.A.'s, it's not time to panic yet, but the Nash injury, no matter how minor it may seem now, is certainly a red flag worth worrying about.