When the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards tipped off their opening round playoff game this past weekend, there was a small oddity in the Game 1 lineup – center Nene Hilario was starting.
Nene had been coming off the bench since returning from an injury and it was a role many expected him to continue with, at least for the first few games of the series. But Nene was thrown into the starting lineup and not only played 35 minutes, but played extremely well, posting 24 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and a block.
Not completely adapted to playing such heavy minutes (especially against a physical team like the Bulls), Nene admitted that he’s still sore after the contest.
As he strapped on his knee brace before Monday’s practice, Nene was asked how his body felt after playing the most minutes since a Feb. 11 loss in Memphis, which prompted a smile.
“I’m tired. I’m sore,” Nene said. “But tomorrow is another day. We’ll see.”
The Bulls and Wizards will play Game 2 of their series tonight with Game 3 coming on Friday evening. The Wizards are 3-0 against the Bulls this season with Nene in the lineup.