Nene's health will continue to be a huge story as the Wizards push for their first playoff appearance since 2008. When could he return from a strained MCL? Will it be before the end of the regular season?
Via Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears, the answer may be yes:
Nene has missed the past 15 games with a sprained right MCL, but a source said he is expected back after the first week of April.
That'd be a nice short in the arm. Nene suffered the injury February 23 against Cleveland, which was four weeks ago yesterday. The second week in April would put it at about six weeks, the exact timetable the Wizards initially suggestedwhen Nene got hurt. It'd also give Nene a couple weeks to regain some of his wind before the playoffs actually begin, though I'd guess he'll be on a minutes limit.
The Wizards played well initially without Nene against a soft schedule, but missed him on their unsuccessful four-game road trip. The difference is felt defensively in particular: the Wizards have allowed 105.7 points per 100 possessions since his injury compared to 102 points per 100 possessions before it, per NBA.com's stats page.