Wizards will get some help at center with Kevin Seraphin’s return

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Kevin Seraphin wouldn’t take the bait. Asked if he knew when Nene was going to return, since the two are close friends, Seraphin simply shrugged, and smiled.

“Nene? I don’t know,” Seraphin said. “I check everyday but I really don’t know. Every time I ask him he tells me he doesn’t know, so I can’t answer that question.”

Nene’s return may be a mystery, but Seraphin is set to return to the court on Saturday when the Wizards face the Boston Celtics in their home opener.

Seraphin was expected to miss between four and five weeks with a right calf strain, an injury he suffered during the Wizards preseason win over the Cavaliers on Oct. 13. With extensive therapy, treatment and rehab – sometimes as much as five or six hours per day – Seraphin is returning ahead of schedule.

His timing couldn’t be better after the Wizards poor performance in the season opener in Cleveland. They were out-rebounded 54 to 39, gave up 42 points in the paint, and struggled to defend the three-point line, allowing the Cavaliers to connect on 7 of 20.

Emeka Okafor and Trevor Booker each struggled on both ends of the floor, but the team did get some quality minutes from backup center Earl Barron, who had eight points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

Seraphin returned to practice on Thursday, and practiced Friday as well. He said he had no soreness in his calf and is ready to go.

“Of course, it’s a good thing,” Seraphin said after Friday’s practice. “I’m supposed to be out like four weeks, and [now] just two weeks. I’m ready to play tomorrow so tomorrow I will play. Now I’m ready to play good and help my team on defense and offense.”

As for facing 14-time All-Star Kevin Garnett, the Wizards 6-foot-10 third-year center from French Guiana is looking forward to it.

“When you have a big name, always for me that’s a challenge,” Seraphin said. “He’s a tough guy, he tries to intimidate people and tomorrow will be a great game. He’s a guy who really loves basketball and he always plays tough.”

Rookie guard Bradley Beal is anxious to have Seraphin back on the court, but expects him to be limited.

“He probably has to get back in shape, but he looks good in practice,” Beal said. “He’s been out for a while, so he’ll be winded. But he’s posting hard, he’s finishing, he’s been doing the same things that he was doing before he got injured. We’re short at the big man position, so we’re glad to have him back.”

Coach Randy Wittman said he’s not planning to place a strict limit on Seraphin’s minutes, but will take a cautious approach.

“We have to see tomorrow,” Wittman said. “Again, you never know that second or third day how it feels. We’ll monitor that, then I’ll talk to the doctors before the game to get of grasp of if there will need to be a minute [restriction] thing. Hopefully not, but there might be.”

As for facing his good friend, Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Wittman joked “I want to kick his [butt], and you can tell him that, because I’m going to tell him that.”

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