With four games to go and the possibility of a top-four finish still possible, the Lynx hit the home stretch without two key players for the foreseeable future.
Forward Rebekkah Brunson sustained a hairline fracture of her nose in the second quarter of last Sunday’s loss to Atlanta. During the week, she started exhibiting concussion symptoms and has entered the league concussion protocol.
Point guard Danielle Robinson, meanwhile, has been tentatively diagnosed with a high ankle sprain, which came in Thursday’s victory in Las Vegas. As of Saturday the team was waiting for the results of further tests. But, at this point, this appears to be a serious injury that could keep Robinson out for a long time.
After getting two games of rest, starting point guard Lindsay Whalen returns. Her primary backup will be Tanisha Wright, who had a breakthrough game Thursday, with 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
“[Wright’s] just a good basketball player, she’s smart,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. Wright, who signed during the offseason after deciding to return to the WNBA after a year off, has had an up-and-down season. But, given extended playing time Thursday, she did a good job of setting a good offensive pace, and gave the Lynx good, physical perimeter defense. She will be playing big minutes going forward.
The Lynx went 2-0 without Brunson or Whalen in the lineup, scoring 80 or more points in each game; the team is 14-1 when reaching 80 points this season. The insertion of Cecilia Zandalasini into the starting lineup, which moved Maya Moore to power forward, has resulted in spacing that has made things easier for Moore — who has had consecutive 30-point games.
“The last couple games, out of necessity, we’ve moved towards a different style of play,” Reeve said. “We’ve enjoyed the pace we’re playing at. … Tanisha has given us that physical defense, but she’s also pushed the pace. Life is easier on Maya, on Seimone [Augustus] too.’’