The Washington Wizards sit just a game ahead of the Charlotte Bobcats for sixth place in the Eastern Conference, and when they host Charlotte on Wednesday, they'll have big man Nene available for the first time in six weeks, the team announced.
Nene will play for the first time since spraining the MCL in his left knee on Feb. 23, though he will be on a minutes restriction. The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell reports Nene, who went through the majority of practices earlier this week, will play between 15-20 minutes.
No matter his limited minutes, the return is good news for coach Randy Wittman's team. Washington, which is 40-37 on the season, has survived without its starting big man and recorded a 12-9 record without him. Nene is averaging 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game this year.
The game on Wednesday night is mighty important.
Washington losing to Charlotte would give the teams even records, but more painfully, it would secure the tiebreaker for the Bobcats, who have won two of three games against the Wizards this year. A win for the Wizards would give them a two-game lead on the Bobcats with four games left for each team.
The difference between the sixth and seventh spots when considering the postseason is the difference between getting Toronto or Chicago in the first round rather than Miami or Indiana.