Point guard Steve Nash said he is "very confident" he will return from a hamstring injury for the Los Angeles Lakers' playoff opener at San Antonio on Sunday, hopefully adding another major contributor to the Lakers' late-season surge.
The two-time NBA MVP practiced with his teammates at their training complex Friday, going through half-court offensive drills and testing his injured right hamstring. Nash hasn't played in April, missing Los Angeles' final eight games with the latest injury in a year that began with a broken leg in the Lakers' second game.
"I just don't want to overpromise and get ahead of myself," Nash said. "The last almost three weeks now, I wake up every morning, thinking, 'Today's the day,' and then I want to hang myself after practice, so I don't want to over-promise."
Nash hasn't been able to run at full speed, a serious problem for a floor leader with a game predicated on movement and anticipation.
But after receiving recent epidural injections, Nash believes he can be in the starting lineup when the seventh-seeded Lakers open in San Antonio.
"Especially the last two weeks, I couldn't sprint," he said. "There was just too much inhibition from the nerve, and it was just shutting me down whenever I tried to cover some ground. It's hard to play in an NBA game if you can't change ends of the floor. That's the last little bit I'm hoping for, and it's feeling pretty close."
Back getting better
Forward Blake Griffin said he received treatment on his back for the spasms that affected him in the Los Angeles Clippers' regular-season finale and he's ready for the team's playoff opener Saturday against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Griffin practiced Friday and he says his back is still a little tender, but it's not as bad as it was on Wednesday night at Sacramento.
That's when his back locked up while shooting before the game, but he was able to make two big plays at the end of the Clippers' four-point win.
Los Angeles finished the regular season with a 56-26 record that included a seven-game winning streak. Memphis had the same mark, with the teams tying for fourth in the Western Conference.
ABC and ESPN had their most viewers ever for NBA coverage, helped by the interest in the Miami Heat and its 27-game winning streak.
The two games added during the streak, the second-longest in NBA history, both earned a 2.9 rating, tying for the fourth highest-rated, regular-season games ever on ESPN.
The Heat's Christmas Day victory over Oklahoma City in a finals rematch was ABC's most-watched NBA regular-season game, with 9.6 million viewers.
Overall, ABC averaged 4.7 million viewers for its 15 broadcasts and ESPN averaged 1.8 million viewers for its 77 telecasts.