Wizards expected to have Nene return before the playoffs

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The Wizards suffered what was perhaps a predictable loss on Saturday, facing a very tough Bulls team on the second night of a back-to-back after beating the Knicks at Madison Square Garden less than 24 hours before.

The loss had Washington wondering if things might have been different with Nene in the lineup, who played in the two previous meetings this season, both of which were Wizards victories.

It isn’t likely, but it remains possible that Washington could face Chicago in a first round playoff matchup. And fortunately, they’re expected to see Nene return from injury before the postseason begins.

From J. Michael of CSN Washington:

Forgotten in the topsy-turvy end to the Wizards’ season is that while they’ve fallen a spot to the No. 6 seed, they’ve gone 12-9 without Nene. He’s likely to return from a left knee ligament strain this week, and just in time. When asked if they’d missed his presence after being dominated by the Chicago Bulls on Saturday, no one denied it. It was too obvious. …

“Nene gives us another facilitator. Against a team like this you need another one,” Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. “With John being one, Bradley can do some things off the dribble but Nene was another guy that can play like Noah does at the top with the ball in his hands, the passing and also the posting up that he does for us. That’s not an excuse why we lost.”

Nene has missed the last 21 games, and his presence will improve the offense in terms of having a low-post threat to help take some pressure off of John Wall and Bradley Beal, who do so much of the team’s scoring from the guard positions.

Nene has averaged 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and three assists in 30.1 minutes per game this season.

Report: ‘Tremendous concern’ for Jeremy Lin’s knee injury

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The Nets’ projected record this season came under greater scrutiny when the Celtics traded Brooklyn’s unprotected first-round pick to the Cavaliers in the Kyrie Irving trade. After finishing third-to-last and last the previous two years, were the Nets poised to take a step forward, or would they convey a very high pick to the Cavs?

Jeremy Lin, who missed 46 games last season, getting healthy was a reason for optimism in Brooklyn and pessimism in Cleveland. But it appears the veteran guard could be out a while.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

Billy Reinhardt of Nets Daily:

If the injury is as bad as feared, what a bummer for Lin. He came to Brooklyn expecting to play a leading role on a developing team, and he just can’t stay healthy.

The Nets were probably more focused on developing their younger players, but – especially without their own draft picks – there was no harm in shooting for the playoffs. This appears to a blow to that (already unlikely) dream.

It’s a boon to the Cavaliers, though. And whenever something significantly affects LeBron James‘ team, it has ramifications into the entire power dynamic of the Eastern Conference. For an injury to a player on a team most expect to be bad, the medical developments here will be tracked closely around the league.

Aaron Gordon throws himself alley-oop off backboard (video)

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Remember when Aaron Gordon was a promising fun player?

The Magic sidetracked him by playing him at small forward most of last season. But back at power forward, Gordon showed how he could push the pace as a four in Orlando’s season-opening win over the Heat.

There’s obviously flair in passing to yourself off the backboard, but it’s a sound way to improve position. Gordon did that to fantastic effect.

PBT Extra: Three things to watch with Boston in wake of Hayward injury

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Gordon Hayward is going to have surgery on his ankle and leg, which should not be a surprise to anyone who saw the gruesome injury to his leg just 5:15 into his Celtics career. There is no timetable for his return yet, maybe he makes it back for the playoffs, but the Celtics are not going to rush him and he may well miss the entire season.

What next for Boston?

In this PBT Extra I cover the three things to watch for from Boston, which in the short term could mean the Kyrie Irving show. Longer term, not much changes.

Gordon Hayward addresses Celtics and fans from hospital bed (video)

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Gordon Hayward broke his leg early in his Celtics debut – a devastating injury. He’s preparing for surgery tonight, per Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

First – after a perfect introduction from Marcus Smart – Hayward addressed the Boston crowd from his hospital bed before tonight’s game against the Bucks.

Hayward:

What’s up everybody? Just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has sent me your thoughts and prayers. I’m going to be alright. It’s hurting me that I can’t be there for the home opener. I want nothing more just to be with my teammates and walk out onto that floor tonight. But I’ll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck. Kill it tonight. Thanks, guys.

At least this nice moment (and an outpouring of support) came out of such a gruesome injury.

And if Smart keeps setting up his teammates so well, maybe the Celtics’ offense will keep humming.