Any fear that Nene would miss John Wall's season debut likely ended Friday when the Brazilian big man returned to practice after sitting out since Sunday with right knee tendonitis.
Any hope that the Wizards' primary interior option would be fully healthy by the time Washington's point guard returned from his injury - Wall is officially playing Saturday against Atlanta - also has ended.
"Yeah, it’s still sore," Nene said of his latest malady. "It’s still weak, but after three days, it’s good to be back and see how my knee is doing, how my body respond."
Back on Nov. 21, Nene made his return from his plantar fasciitis in his left foot and did so with a 20-minute per game limit. Over time, his minutes have ticked up, though only once in 20 games has he played over 30.
That came Jan. 4 in the double-overtime home loss to Brooklyn where he scored 20 points on 8 of 12 shooting before fouling out during the extra sessions after playing 36 minutes. Two days later, Nene scored a season-low five points, missing five of six shots in 22 minutes in Sunday's loss at Miami. The next night, it was no mas against Oklahoma City.
"I’ve been treating my foot now because I compensate in the game," Nene said. "I overplay and some part of my body pay for it, my knee. I’ve been doing physical therapy and I try to take care."
Washington (5-28) and Atlanta (21-14) will be saying no mas to each other after the fourth and final meeting of the regular season. The Hawks won the previous three though twice the games required an extra session, including Atlanta's 100-95 win in Washington on Dec. 18.
"We’ve played three games with them, and have had an opportunity that we let go," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "Challenge our guys, this is the last one, the last chance to play Atlanta, let’s go out and get this one."
Behind 24 points from Devin Harris, the Hawks ended a four-game streak on Friday with a 103-95 win over Utah.
In the previous meeting against the Hawks, Nene scored 18 points while Jordan Crawford posted the second triple-double of his career with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Crawford, who also sat out Monday's win against the Thunder, remains questionable to face his former team due to a sore left ankle. Cartier Martin will miss the game with a hyper-extended left knee.
For the most part, the Wizards have not been healthier this season. Trevor Ariza and A.J. Price returned from their lengthy injury absences on Monday while Wall and Trevor Booker (knee) join the fray on Saturday.
""It's good to see Booker, Ariza and John Wall on the court," Nene said. "It’s a big difference."
There is little doubt Wall's return will make a big difference for a team currently last in the scoring. Playing alongside Wall during 11 games last season, Nene averaged 14.5 points and shot 60.7 percent from the field.
"John Wall is a playmaker...this kind of player help me a lot on the court," Nene said. Even though the 6-foot-11 forward acknowledged the chemistry shown between the two last year all the way back, the trajectory looks just right.
"He think smart," Nene said of the third-year guard. "He think fast, and he pass the ball quick...We need to adjust with him, and he need to adjust with us... I practiced with him today. It was good. It was great."
As for whether he expects more touches in the paint now that one of last season's league leaders in assists is back, Nene smiled and said, "I just expect the guys to make more percentage [of shots]. After that, I’m good."