When the Wizards play the Hawks tonight in Atlanta, they will have a much different look that includes a new starting lineup and a 6-foot-11 reserve from Brazil.
Nene is expected to make his season debut, after only one full practice with the team. Before the game, Nene put on his tights and pads and said, “I think I can do something.”
Coach Randy Wittman was not aware of Nene’s availability until after his pre-game radio interview. A Wizards public relations staffer informed Wittman that Nene planned to play and afterward, Wittman spoke with Nene on the court. Wittman will give him limited minutes.
“I don’t know exactly what that minute thing will be,” Wittman said. “He’s got a familiarity. But it’s going to take some time. conditioning, getting his legs underneath. Those are things, it’s going to take a while to get all of those things.”
Nene warned that he hasn’t played in more than three months but said he would rely on “experience and faith” to contribute to the team. At the morning shootaround, Nene said, “I can help. After one practice, I know I can help.”
The Wizards will endeavor to avoid becoming the 13th team in NBA history to start a season with 10 consecutive losses. Wittman has struggled to find a rotation that works, but he decided to go with his third different starting lineup: Shaun Livingston, Bradley Beal, Jordan Crawford, Jan Vesely and Kevin Seraphin. That lineup has never seen the floor this season and Livingston, Beal, Seraphin and Crawford have played a total of one minute together. A.J. Price, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza will come off the bench for the first time this season.
“Got to try a different combination than we’ve had before. Trying to find the right mix now,” Wittman said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. We’ll continue to try to search and do that until we find it.”
Trevor Booker will not play because of a strained right knee. He is listed as day-to-day.
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Tipoff: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: 106.7 (WJFK FM)
Once the contest starts, check out a live box score for the game here.