The draft-day acquisition of Anna Cruz keeps looking more and more important for the Lynx.
Minnesota hosts Chicago Friday night in a meeting of the two conference leaders in the WNBA. For the Lynx, it is a much-anticipated rematch of last week’s loss in Chicago.
But they will be a little thinner in the depth department.
Backup shooting guard Monica Wright had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee Thursday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester. She is out indefinitely, though coach Cheryl Reeve said the hope is Wright can be 100 percent rehabilitated in time for the playoffs. That means Cruz — brought in primarily to back up starting point guard Lindsay Whalen — will see her minutes jump as she also plays off guard.
Reeve said Wright sensed she had a problem because of persistent weakness in the quadriceps area, one sign of a knee problem. Wright had a similar surgery on April 25, 2014, and missed the first 10 games of that season, returning June 15. A similar timetable would have Wright back in time to perhaps get in an appearance in a regular-season game before the playoffs begin.
But until then, fans will see a whole lot more of Cruz, who joined the team in early July after playing for the Spanish national team.
“There is Anna’s value right there, having the ability to play some [shooting guard],” Reeve said. “We’ve been doing that more and more, and now we’ll be doing it for a while.’’
Backup shooting guard Tricia Liston also figures to play more.
Cruz has appeared in three games, looking increasingly comfortable with her new team; Thursday, Reeve said it’s no coincidence the team’s offensive pace has increased since she arrived.
But now she’ll be asked to do even more.
Reeve said to look for more sets where Cruz is the point guard while Whalen plays off the ball in an attempt to bolster her game.
“I like the idea of having Whalen and Cruz together,” she said. “To give [Whalen] more off-the-ball scenarios. She’s always in the middle of the floor, and life there has been hard for her lately. I think a little freedom for her to be off-ball would be helpful.’’
It would also give opponents a different look to guard, which is important. Especially against the high-scoring Sky, which is on a four-game winning streak that includes victories by a total of 48 points in its past two games.
The Lynx feel they let last Friday’s game get away in Chicago with some poor offensive possessions down the stretch. They have been eager for a rematch.
“I was ready to play right there, play again,” Maya Moore said. “It’s nice to have that game fresh in our minds, on our home court, with extra motivation.’’
But that is tempered by the loss of Wright, who missed the first five games of this season because of a strained right calf. In seven games she had struggled to find a groove, averaging 2.1 points and 1.1 assists in 11.5 minutes per game. She learned she would need the surgery Wednesday.
“It was her birthday,” Seimone Augustus said. “Hopefully everyone will see her today and give her some love.
“She just has to make sure she gets healthy and back on the floor.’’