So much for the Lynx returning to full health for the stretch run.
The Lynx began the final quarter of the regular season hosting the New York Liberty on Tuesday at Target Center without center Sylvia Fowles and point guard Layshia Clarendon.
This after a week between games in which coach Cheryl Reeve tried to give her starters time off.
During a light workout this week Fowles got tangled up with a practice player and fell, hurting her left shoulder. There was some thought she might play, but the Lynx decided rest was best.
Clarendon had been experiencing slight right leg pain. That pain increased when Clarendon tried to return to action after days off this week. Tests indicated a stress reaction in the right fibula. Clarendon was wearing a walking boot on the leg Tuesday.
Neither injury is considered long-term, but Reeve didn't have a specific timetable for either.
"We don't want to take any chances,'' she said. "So let's take precautions now.''
That left the Lynx with nine healthy players for Tuesday's game. Center Natalie Achonwa and guard Crystal Dangerfield were inserted into the starting lineup.
The Lynx have lost games because of injury or availability issues all season. It started when Napheesa Collier missed the first three games of the season — all losses — while finishing her obligations playing in Europe, then serving a mandatory COVID-19 quarantine. Aerial Powers played in only her seventh game Tuesday; she missed five games early in the season because of a hamstring injury, then she tore the ulnar collateral ligament in her right hand in her first game back. Surgery and rehab cost her another 13 games.
Achonwa sprained her knee June 12 and missed 10 games, returning — wearing a brace — after the Olympic break.
Meanwhile, Collier has been battling plantar fasciitis pain for some time but playing through it. "It's not your basic plantar fasciitis, either,'' Reeve said. "There is some stuff going on in there.''
Reeve said Collier played with similar pain in her other foot last season, receiving an off-season injection. Her current issue will likely require a similar offseason treatment.
WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert was in attendance at Tuesday's game. In a halftime news conference she talked on a number of issues, including:
- Expansion. Acknowledging depth in the league made expansion a good idea, Englebert said the league is analyzing the subject, saying it would likely be a year before the decision-making process would begin.
- The playoffs. Aware that the two-round, single-elimination format for the start of the playoffs is unpopular with coaches and players, Engelbert said the playoff format is being examined. It is unlikely any changes are coming soon; next year's world championships in September will compress the 2022 WNBA season, making any change that would lengthen playoffs unlikely. Engelbert said at least one single-elimination round might stay, but changes in later rounds may eventually come.