On Sunday, The Lynx hosted “Women’s Health Night” because even in a difficult season, it’s important to keep your sense of humor.
The night Napheesa Collier returned to court after her pregnancy, Ariel Powers sat out with a knee injury. Collier became the 20th player to play for the Lynx in her 33rd game that season, and then brought her baby to her press conference after helping the Lynx defeat Atlanta 81-71.
It was like someone pointing out the Lynx’s staffing issues, even if the point is as redundant as the phrase “hit the basketball.”
Collier is the Lynx’s best player. She missed 32 games and trained fully for the first time on Saturday. Powers’ game varied greatly from game to game, but she didn’t miss a game through Sunday.
Future Lynx Hall of Fame center Sylvia Fowles was limited to 27 games and 27.6 minutes per game because of knee pain, and she appeared to be limited by her knee during the game.
The Lynx’s original plan this spring may have been to play against these five starters – Layshia Clarendon, Angel McCoughtry, Fowles, Damiris Dantas and Powers.
Clarendon and McCoughtry were not in good health to remain employed. Dantas struggled and is now off the team for personal reasons.
Here’s the list of point guards who have kept the Lynx busy since preseason: Clarendon, Rachel Banham, Odyssey Sims, Lindsay Allen, Evina Westbrook and Moriah Jefferson.
Jefferson has played well but is dealing with her own knee pain.
Has Lynx trainer Cheryl Reeve ever had a season like this?
“I thought it was a lot last year,” Reeve said. “It’s just a shame. I think if you do this long enough, you might experience things like that. We also always remember when we were healthy and when we were lucky.
“I always remember when we were healthy I felt like I shouldn’t take that for granted because it won’t always be the case.”
Of all the injuries, the faltering Clarendon before the start of the season was perhaps the most important. Turnovers have been the Lynx’s most obvious problem this season, and rotating point guards have been a big contributor.
Another subplot was at play on Sunday night. Powers shoots 38.1% from the field while firing more shots than anyone else on the team. Powers has the worst shot percentage of any Lynx starter, and she often shoots after holding the ball or driving into multiple defenders.
She can carry a team when she’s hot or take her teammates off offense when she’s not.
Without them, Sunday’s Lynx offensive didn’t exactly go smoothly, but three Lynx guards led the team in shots and goals.
Jefferson made seven of 11 shots, including four of her five threes, for 18 points. Kayla McBride made seven of 15 shots for 20 points. Rachel Banham made five of nine shots for 12 points before leaving the game because it sounded like a sprained knee.
“We always emphasize playing through Syl – it’s a big deal to be inside out,” McBride said. “But you know, Rachel and my eyes light up when we see zones, and Moriah leads the league in three-point field goal percentage.”
The league’s playoff format keeps the Lynx in contention with three games remaining.
They play in Phoenix on Wednesday night, in their only game left, against one of the teams they are battling for one of the final playoff spots.
They play another retiring legend, Sue Bird, at the Target Center in Seattle on Friday night in Fowles’ final home game.
This season of point guard turnover and turnover, the Lynx will end the season in Connecticut, which recently signed Sims.
Moriah Jefferson vs. Odyssey Sims with a Lynx playoff berth on the line?
That wasn’t in the realm of possibility a few months ago. Now it’s almost a certainty if you’re going to assume the Lynx’s current roster can make it that far.