Pregame warmup: Nene serious about beating Heat

Pregame warmup: Nene serious about beating Heat
April 14, 2014, 4:00 pm
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After sitting out the last game as a precaution because it was the second of a back-to-back, Nene is a bit eager and testy about facing the Miami Heat on Monday (CSN, 7 p.m. ET). 

When the Heat (54-26) were in Washington around this time last season, the Wizards were out of the playoff mix. They'd only won 29 games. This time, they're in the postseason for the first time since 2008 and trying to lock up the No. 6 seed.

"It's different. It's not only about Heat," said Nene, who returned from a left knee ligament strain last week. "It's about momentum. Last year we were out of the playoffs. This year we have a chance to do special things. We need to take this game like preparation for the playoffs."

The Heat, winners of the last two NBA championships, likely will be resting most of their starters even though they're still in the running for the No. 1 seed in the East.

[MORE: Momentum important for Wiz]

The Wizards (42-38) have young stars such as John Wall and Bradley Beal, who have never sniffed the postseason. As a team, they're in a different place. They want to enter the postseason on a four-game winning streak by being successful Monday and in the regular-season finale at the Boston Celtics.

"The nerves kick in probably a little bit more," Beal said of the intensity he feels now compared to this time a year ago when he was a rookie. "You're in tune and more focused. There's a lot more at stake. Our seeding is at stake. Our approach to the game is very different strategic-wise."

Regardless of who takes the court for Miami, it appears very unlikely that these Wizards will have lack of focus or intensity as an excuse. They appear to have it in abundance.