The Minnesota Lynx (17-9) will host the Washington Mystics (10-16) in a WNBA game Saturday night at 20:00 ET. The match, which has implications for both teams, will be broadcast on NBA TV.
The Lynx currently sits in fourth place in the WNBA position and just half a game behind third place in the Seattle Storm (19-10). This is a position Minnesota has earned, with a 0-4 start after the season and multiple injuries to key players, making the Lynx’s battle to contention even more impressive. They have won 12 of their last 14 matches, which run until June 23, opponents with eight points per 100 possessions and the league’s second best defense during that period – and they are now able to pass Seattle for the coveted third seed.
To be able to do that, the Lynx will need Sylvia Fowles to stay Sylvia Fowles. On Thursday, the Minnesota center put on another great performance in an MVP-caliber season, returning from a shoulder injury to 15 points and 17 rebounds in a wen los angeles. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve pointed that a minute limit for Fowles ‘does not work’, so as long as the team is in the reach of a higher playoff game, Fowles will still be his focal point.
Washington meanwhile also plays for post-season boring, though the Mystics have much less margin of error than their opponents. They are currently holding on to the eighth and final playoff game with a wire, and are defending New York (11-18) and Los Angeles (10-18) with a half game and game, respectively.
Further complications are the health of the Washington superstars. WNBA’s leading scorer and longtime Fowles nemesis Tina Charles has missed the last four games with an injury, while two-time league MVP Elena Delle Donne back on the shelf after suffering the back injury that kept her out most of the season.
While Charles travels to Minnesota with the Mystics (Mike Thibault, Washington head coach) optimistic about her game), if she still can not cope, the Mystics find themselves in a familiar position: unmanned, specifically with respect to superior talent. Can the Mystics get upset with their backs against the wall in what should be considered a must-win game?
Elsewhere, the Phoenix Mercury (16-10) travels to Indiana to play the fever (6-19). Phoenix is another team that has reversed its fate, winning each of its last seven games and looking for another one against the team from eleventh place. Tip is scheduled for 1pm ET and the match can be watched on NBA TV.
Phoenix Mercury (16-10) vs. Indiana Fever (6-19)
When: Saturday 4 September at 13:00 ET
Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Bally Sports Indiana, Bally Sports AZ, TSN5
Mercury Injury Report: Bria Hartley (doubtful; right knee)
Fever Injury Report: Danielle Robinson (out; right ankle), Chelsey Perry (out for season; right knee), Bernadett Határ (out; right ankle), Kysre Gondrezick (out; personal leave)
Keys to the match: While the obvious important individual match is in the middle between centers Brittney Griner and Teaira McCowan, Mercury guard Skylar Diggins-Smith was on an absolute tear. In her last five games, she averaged 23.2 points per game on a lightning-fast shooting percentage of 72.7, which carries the Mercury offense to victories over Chicago and New York. Indiana will have to keep Diggins-Smith out of the paint — a task much easier said than done — and at the same time make life difficult for the Mercury to get Griner in the post to upset Phoenix.
Washington Mystics (10-16) vs. Minnesota Lynx (17-9)
When: Saturday 4 September at 20:00 ET
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Bally Sports North
Mystics Injury Report: Tina Charles (doubtful; left gluteal strain), Elena Delle Donne (out; back), Myisha Hines-Allen (out; non-COVID disease)
Lynx Injury Report: Layshia Clarendon (out; right lower leg), Damiris Dantas (out of season; right foot), Rennia Davis (out of season; left foot strain)
Keys to the match: Much depends on Charles’ health. If she can go, Washington has at least a chance to pass Fowles one-on-one; if not, the Mystics must rely heavily on the distance between the floor with shooters like Theresa Plaisance in an attempt to pull Fowles out of the paint. Washington could also try to exploit the small stature of Lynx guard Crystal Dangerfield; the rookie of the year in 2020 has been forced to take extra action, with Layshia Clarendon recovering from a leg injury, so if the Mystics’ Natasha Cloud pulls the order at Dangerfield, expect her to hunt her on both sides of the floor .