Injuries are a part of sports, we know this. But the situation in women’s professional basketball is incredibly frustrating, because injuries could no doubt be reduced if the players were paid enough to be able to have an off-season. For most of the WNBA players, even the stars, this is not an option, at least not on a regular basis. They need to go overseas in the fall and winter months in order to maximize their earnings during what is a limited window to make a living as a professional athlete.
I bring this up here because the Lynx are home tonight against the defending champion Seattle Storm, but the Storm are missing two stars due to injury: veteran point guard Sue Bird (who, to be fair, did not play overseas this year) and reigning MVP (and Finals MVP) Breanna Stewart, who will miss this season after injuring herself in Europe.
The Storm are led by guard Jewell Loyd, while former Lynx Natasha Howard is emerging as a star in the front court. She dominated the Mercury to the tune of 21 points, 16 boards, five steals and three blocks.
This will be an interesting early season test for the Lynx, who will be without Seimone Augustus and likely without Karima Christmas-Kelly once again. Despite the absence of those two, the Lynx’ advantage tonight might be their depth. We saw it in their opening night win over the Chicago Sky, when five Lynx were in double figures, including Lexie Brown off the bench. In addition to Brown, rookie Jessica Shepard had a major contribution as a reserve. The Lynx used 10 players in that win, while Seattle used only eight in their opener.
Meanwhile, Napheesa Collier will be looking for a strong followup to her outstanding 27 point debut. It’s also not clear that the Storm have anyone who can deal with Sylvia Fowles in the post, which might wind up the difference in the ball game.
This should be an interesting early season test for two quality teams in the Western Conference. Enjoy it.