Washington Wizards center Nene had been out for six weeks due to a sprained ligament in his left knee, and the big fella was able to practice for the first time with his teammates in over a month on Monday, with the Playoffs fast approaching. Per the WaPo:
In his first public comments since sustaining the sprained ligament in his left knee that sidelined him for the last 21 games, Nene expressed a desire to wipe away any rust and test his endurance during the Wizards last five games before entering the high-intensity environment of the NBA postseason.
“At some point I need to play. I’ll play a little bit (Wednesday) and test my body and my knee and see where I am,” Nene said while holding a red, blue and black knee brace. “I tried pushing myself, and they say I look good, but for me that’s not enough. For me, it’s a process of getting back where I left off.”
That process is expected to begin Wednesday, when the Wizards host Charlotte in its biggest game of the season. With Washington holding a one-game lead on the Bobcats for the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs and the tiebreaker up for grabs, the Wizards expect Wednesday’s contest to feature the type of physical play that typically surfaces in the postseason — a setting Washington hasn’t competed in since 2008.
“We’re fighting for a seed, so it’s basically a playoff game,” Wizards guard John Wall said. “[Nene] will probably be on a minutes restriction, but I think just the presence of having him out there and seeing how hard he worked in fighting to come back [will] give our team another boost.”
Before going down with his knee injury in a Feb. 23 victory against Cleveland, Nene had put together his best string of play this season, amassing double-digit points in 15 straight games, including a 30-point, seven-rebound effort against New Orleans in his last full contest.
Nene’s elevated play didn’t always translate in the standings — the Wizards went 7-8 in that stretch – but it did result in wins against playoff contenders Golden State, Oklahoma City and Portland and built enough momentum for a stretch of nine victories in 10 games heading into March.
Since then, the Wizards have added Drew Gooden and Andre Miller and eased Al Harrington back into the rotation following his own knee injury.