Nene is in for Wednesday's game, and there's no better time to get a feel for the postseason against the Charlotte Bobcats with the No. 6 seeding on the line. "Each needs to do their homework, needs to (pay) attention," he said after his second day of full-contact practice. "In the playoffs, everybody knows your strength. So you need to adapt. You need to adjust each game."
The Wizards (40-37), who have been starting Trevor Booker at power forward in the 21 games missed by Nene because of a left knee ligament strain, will have to figure out how to acclimate to him again. Drew Gooden has been logging about 19 minutes per game off the bench.
Nene and Gooden having similar games offensively which could make sharing the court simultaneously a challenge, though Gooden could still find time behind Marcin Gortat at center. Nene is by far the better defender. Coach Randy Wittman anticipates a minutes restriction for him. He likes to use Gooden in the middle when he goes small because his shooting range can pull bigs away from the basket.
"I need to play to get my timing back, play a little bit, test my body, my knee, see where I am," Nene said. "It's a normal process. My whole body is sore. They say I look good."
When Nene went down Feb. 23, they's just acquired Andre Miller, who he played with when both were with the Denver Nuggets, in a trade. Gooden was signed three days later. Both are well over 30 and Nene welcomes their wisdom to the locker room for a team that has qualified for the playoffs for the first time in six years.
"They'll help us to get where we're supposed to be. Everybody is excited. To a majority of the players it's a new game. I call it a new season because it's different than a normal season," Nene said. "My body right now is tired. I know the playoffs is a lot of physicality. Its a bit more intensity than the regular season. That's the way I play. ... I've got to get back to my old condition and be positive the way I practice."