- The Bulls are in the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, and a few of the players have been with the team through those playoff seasons. The Wizards are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. The Bulls had the No. 4 seed and challenged for the No. 3 seed to the final day, while the Wizards climbed into the No. 5 seed on the season’s last day. The Wizards ended up only four games behind the Bulls in the final standings. But Washington coach Randy Wittman said his team is not the underdog in the series. “We have proven we can play. Whether I think we are an underdog or you think we are an underdog, it doesn’t matter. It’s the first one to win four games. We have to win four games.”
- This is Washington’s first playoff appearance since 2008. The last time the Wizards had a long break from the postseason, it was 2005, and they had not been in the playoffs since 1997. They were the No. 5 seed meeting the No. 4 Chicago Bulls, just as they are tonight, and they won that series 4-2. Oddly, the time previous to that example when the Wizards spent a long time away from the postseason was in 1997, when they were making their first appearance since 1988, and again they played the Bulls, losing the series 3-0 in a best-of-five first-round series.
- Nene has been on a minutes restriction since returning from a knee injury with six games remaining in the regular season. He played 24 minutes in the season finale against Miami, but he reportedly will remain on a similar minutes restriction at least for Game 1 of the series. During practice Saturday he was wearing a red-white-and-blue knee brace. Nene started 37 games for the Wizards this season and there were early reports coach Randy Wittman would keep him coming off the bench, but just before the start of the game it was announced Nene would start and Trevor Booker would come of the bench.
- Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said it is a mistake to think the Bulls have a huge advantage in playoff experience only because they have been in the postseason for six straight years and the Wizards have missed the last five tournaments. “The only players who don’t have any playoff experience are (second-year guard) Bradley Beal and John Wall,’’ Thibodeau said. “They have done a good job by adding the veterans that they have.” The Bulls have two players with NBA titles, but neither is expected to play much. Backup center Nazr Mohammed won a title with the San Antonio Spurs and third-string point guard Mike James won one with Detroit. Washington’s Trevor Ariza won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers.
– Kent McDill