NBA Washington Wizards

Washington Wizards: 5 Keys To Surviving Without Nene

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Washington Wizards: 5 Keys To Surviving Without Nene

Geoff Burke - USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards are currently playing without their starting center Nene Hilario. He will be out for six weeks with a sprained MCL.

On Tuesday night, Washington won its first game without Nene against the Orlando Magic. Going into the game, there was a lot of speculation as to how the Wizards would perform without Nene. Even though Orlando is 17-42, Washington proved that they are capable of winning while missing their big man.

Washington is currently 29-28 and sitting at the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Realistically, if Washington finishes the season strong, the franchise has an opportunity to finish with the third or fourth seed. This would be huge for the Wizards in the playoffs. A higher seed gives Washington a better chance to advance past the first round. Looking at the remaining part of Washington's schedule, the Wizards have one of the easiest remaining schedules in the NBA. For instance, this March will see Washington play 16 games and out of those games, only fives teams are currently above the .500 mark.

This was the worst possible time for Washington to have a starter get injured. The team is now depending on several factors to finish this season out strong. With that said, here are five keys to success for Washington while Nene is sidelined.

Jack Bolesta is a Washington Wizards writer for Follow him on Twitter @JackBolesta, "Like" him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Transition

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While Nene is out, Washington needs to be extra sharp in their transition game. Both offensive and defensively, the Wizards must control transition and the tempo of the game. Recently against the Magic, Washington turned 17 Orlando turnovers into 23 points. More importantly, the Wizards did not allow a single fast-break point against the Magic. Washington will need to continue to play at this tempo for the remainder of the season if they want a high playoff seed.

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4. Bench Production

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This season, Washington has used a very short rotation. While Nene is gone, frontcourt bench production is more important than ever. Washington will need solid performances each night for Al Harrington, Kevin Seraphin and Chris Singleton. If these players can make contributions off the bench each night, then the Wizards will finish the season on a high note.

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3. Marcin Gortat

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Marcin Gortat has been a great addition to the Wizards. As starting center, Gortat will need to step up and help fill Nene's void. Gortat is currently doing all the right things. He has had five straight double-double games.

Nene was a great offensive contributor. Now Gortat also needs to step up offensively. The Wizards should get the ball to him early in games

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2. Trevor Booker

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Trevor Booker is currently starting at power forward while Nene is injured. Booker has started in 20 games so far this season. He is a very capable player. So far this season, he is averaging 6.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG. Booker provides a lot of defensive sparks for Washington, but now the Wizards must have Booker contribute more offensively as well. While starting and averaging 30 minutes per game, He needs to average around 10 PPG, which would lighten the offensive load for other starters.

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1. Interior Defense

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Nene is one of Washington's best defenders. He provided an intense interior presence on the defensive end of the basketball. While he is out, the Wizards will need Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Marcin Gortat, Trevor Ariza and Al Harrington to all step up on defense.

Washington cannot afford to give away second-chance points by failing to get defensive rebounds. The Wizards currently average 31.5 defensive rebounds per game, 1.1 less than their opponent. The Wizards have to do a better job rebounding in Nene's absence to maintain their path to the playoffs.