As Nene strolled from the practice court to the media scrum awaiting his comments on Saturday, the eve of Washington’s playoff opener in Chicago, there was something different about the Wizards forward.

The knee brace was still there, as were the dreads and the focused gaze. But his Wizards practice jersey was turned to the blue side, a sight that generally means a player took reps with the first unit.

Neither Nene nor Wizards Coach Randy Wittman would definitively answer whether the forward would make his first start since returning from a sprained knee ligament that sidelined him for six weeks. But with Nene’s play in the paint critical to Washington’s chances against Chicago, the idea of him re-entering the starting lineup on Sunday is not far-fetched.

“I’m going to do what I need to do. If I start, if I start on the bench, I’m going to do what I need to do,” Nene said. “I’m working, I’m working. The whole team is preparing themselves for the playoffs. We’ll see tomorrow.”

Since returning in an April 9 loss to Charlotte, Nene has shown no effects of the knee injury that forced him out of 21 games during the last two months, averaging 14.3 points, 2.5 rebounds, two assists and 20.8 minutes in four games off the bench.