Lynx center Janel MCarville’s sore lower back might force her to miss tonight’s WNBA finals opener against Atlanta at Target Center. The two teams open the best-of-five series at 7:30 p.m.
McCarville, her back wrapped, took part in Sunday morning’s shootaround with her team, one day after missing Saturday’s practice. McCarville said it was her plan to play, but Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said it would be a game-time decision.
“I don’t know,” Reeve said when asked if McCarville would play. “Everybody says we should know by shootaround. But that’s not really true. Because, when they go through shootaround, it becomes how do they feel two hours from now?”
McCarville took full part in Friday’s strenuous practice. But her back acted up afterwards, to the extent she was unable to practice Saturday. She and Lynx head athletic trainer Chuck Barta have been working hard to get McCarville back on the court; she was planning on staying after today’s shootaround to get more treatment. She will go home and rest, then return to Target Center early to get further treatment.
“I’m trying not to think too much about it,” McCarville said. “I’m just going to let things play out. I’m planning on playing, and I’m going with that.”
If McCarville can play, she will start as usual, Reeve said.
But if McCarville cannot play?
The Lynx have options. Reeve could opt to go small, moving Monica Wright into the starting lineup and moving Rebekkah Brunson to center.
But the more likely option would be to put Devereaux Peters into the starting lineup at center, with the assignment of defending Atlanta’s physical, 6-5 center Erika de Souza. Amber Harris would get some extra minutes off the bench at the center position.
“We discussed that,” Reeve said. “In the end our gut feeling is to go ahead and (start Peters). We thought we would try to stay as close to who we are as possible.”
McCarville missed two games in early August with a concussion, and the Lynx lost both games. Indeed, those two games were the start of the team’s most difficult stretch this season. The team lost two of three even after McCarville returned before turning a corner. The Lynx are 12-1 since that time, including playoffs.
McCarville played in and started 32 games for the Lynx. She averaged 6.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and a career-high 2.9 assists per game. In four playoff games McCarville has averaged 3.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 1.5 blocks while playing strong defense in the post, particularly against Phoenix center Brittney Griner.