Steve Blake Injury Puts Increased Pressure on Steve Nash to Deliver Immediately

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIINovember 17, 2016

ONTARIO, CA - OCTOBER 10:  Steve Nash #10 of the Los Angeles Lakers greets Steve Blake #5 in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Citizens Business Bank Arena on October 10, 2012 in Ontario, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

According to the Los Angeles Lakers' official team website, point guard Steve Blake's most recent MRI revealed that he still has an abdominal strain. Dr. Steven Yoon tells the organization that Blake will be out at least two more weeks.

As a result of Blake's injury, there is increased pressure on Steve Nash to deliver immediately.

Nash suffered an apparent leg injury on October 31 against the Portland Trail Blazers. Days later, the Lakers learned that their franchise point guard had suffered a small fracture in his left leg (via ESPN Los Angeles).

The injury was expected to keep Nash out "for at least another week." That was nearly one month ago.

Most recently, Dave McMenamin of ESPN Los Angeles reported that Nash has resumed training with Lakers strength and conditioning coach Tim DiFrancesco. They passed on a scheduled MRI this past Monday to put Nash through those drills.

As for how the team is responding to the injury of its top two point guards, coach Mike D'Antoni provided insight on the situation.

"I really don't [know when Nash will return]," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "It's getting better every day. I know we keep saying that, but it is. Just when he's able to withstand some up-and-down, he'll play."

"We're doing it without [Nash], who is kind of the engine that is going to drive us forward," D'Antoni said. "So we're going to have some bumps along the road."

The Lakers are certainly struggling without Nash. Although he may be one of the more maligned players on the roster, Blake too has been sorely missed due to his familiarity with the current personnel.

With Blake set to miss an extended period of time, however, the Lakers will remain in distress. In turn, the need for Nash to return and deliver immediate results will become all the more dire.

Here's why.

Offensive Ineptitude

In five games under Mike D'Antoni, the Los Angeles Lakers are 2-3 with an average of 96.4 points per game. They've topped the 100-point plateau just once and most recently scored just 77 points in a loss to the Indiana Pacers.

In other words, Mike D'Antoni's dream of averaging "110-to-115 points per game" has been nothing but that (via Los Angeles Times). A dream.

With the potential return of Nash, the offense would inevitably improve. No matter how severely he may have struggled during the team's first two games of the 2012-13 NBA season, there is one important fact we cannot ignore.

Nash is now out of the Princeton offense.

Which brings us to our second point. Can Nash actually save coach D'Antoni's system?


Proving Validity of D'Antoni's System

There are die-hard Lakers fans who will stand by any decision that general manager Mitch Kupchak makes. Whether there is justification to such an approach is debatable, but that isn't the issue at hand.

The question one must ask is both rational and elementary in nature. Does head coach Mike D'Antoni's system properly fit the Lakers' personnel?

Those alluded to die-hards will claim that all D'Antoni needs is the return of Steve Nash to the rotation. After all, D'Antoni ran this same system when he coached Nash when both were members of the Phoenix Suns organization.

That combination resulted in the Suns having the most decorated offense of the past half-decade. Leading the league in scoring from 2005 to 2007 is evidence of such.

Their two trips to the Western Conference Finals offer further proof of their proficiency.

Now we are five years removed from D'Antoni and Nash's reign over the NBA. Nash is now 38 and D'Antoni has won just 41.6 percent of his games since 2008.

In other words, these aren't your father's run-and-gun companions. Instead, Nash and D'Antoni are entering this experiment with just as many questions as the rest of the Lakers' personnel.

They simply have a history to suggest there will be positive results.

The key here is not allowing history to be the only source of belief. Nash's and D'Antoni's achievements of the past will hold no meaning if they cannot succeed in Los Angeles.

Which is why Nash's return and Blake's injury are so important.

If Nash makes his long-awaited comeback and the results remain underwhelming, it would be time for the Lakers to abandon D'Antoni and his up-tempo system. If Nash were to return and lead the Lakers to offensive dominance, however, we'd know that D'Antoni's schemes in fact work.

Nash will save D'Antoni's job or prove he was the wrong signing. Now if that's not pressure, what will be?


    SVG Blasts Refs: 'It's Embarrassing' for the NBA

    NBA logo

    SVG Blasts Refs: 'It's Embarrassing' for the NBA

    Joseph Zucker
    via Bleacher Report

    IT, Randle Form Promising, If Not Dominant Duo for Lakers

    Los Angeles Lakers logo
    Los Angeles Lakers

    IT, Randle Form Promising, If Not Dominant Duo for Lakers

    Harrison Faigen
    via Lakers Nation

    LeBron: Lue's Health 'More Important' Than Basketball

    NBA logo

    LeBron: Lue's Health 'More Important' Than Basketball

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    Lue Exits in 1st Half with Illness

    NBA logo

    Lue Exits in 1st Half with Illness

    Kyle Newport
    via Bleacher Report