When the Lynx play host to Connecticut in Wednesday’s matinee at Target Center, Minnesota’s starting backcourt could be two players who weren’t even wearing Lynx uniforms when the season started in early June.
The injuries are mounting.
At Tuesday’s practice, the Lynx had nine healthy players. Guard Seimone Augustus, who had knee surgery last week, was watching from the sidelines. Point guard Lindsay Whalen, who got poked in the eye Sunday in Tulsa, was resting at home. Renee Montgomery, the guard acquired in trade with Seattle on Monday, still was making her way to the Twin Cities and not scheduled to arrive until later in the evening.
“She’ll land tonight and be in uniform [Wednesday],” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “She won’t know a darned thing, but sometimes there’s a beauty in that.”
Whalen saw two doctors Monday who examined the same right eye she hurt six seasons ago. The injury is not expected to be severe, not as bad as it was last time. Whalen — whose vision was cloudy with a dark spot Sunday night — has improved and she might be able to return next week, when the team reassembles after the All Star break; Reeve said she was “cautiously optimistic” that could happen.
But Whalen won’t play Wednesday, ending a 106-game starting streak (including playoffs ) that goes back to September of 2012. She also would miss this weekend’s WNBA All-Star Game in Uncasville, Conn., if she makes the team. The reserves were announced late Tuesday night.
So it’s possible the Lynx’s two starting guards Wednesday could be Anna Cruz — who was still playing for Spain when the season began — and Montgomery as the team goes for a fifth consecutive victory. If Montgomery doesn’t start, Reeve would go with Tricia Liston.
So you’d think Reeve — who also had to deal with injuries at the start of the season — might be a little frustrated. But she’s not.
“We’re responding to things left and right,” Reeve said. “I couldn’t be more proud. … We have this resolve about us I’m really enjoying.”
Resolve and a red-hot Maya Moore. Down 34-27 at the half and without Whalen in the lineup, the Lynx rallied to win 79-72 in Tulsa on Sunday behind 32 points from Moore, 30 of them coming in the second half. The Lynx enter Wednesday’s game with the WNBA’s best record (12-3) and the league’s longest winning streak.
“I can’t guarantee a win,” Reeve said. “But I can guarantee that, no matter who is out there, they’re thinking about going out and doing a little more. If you watched the second half in Tulsa, you’d be in just as good a mood as I’m in.”
Reeve said the Lynx and Seattle were already in discussions about the trade before Whalen got hurt. But that injury add urgency to the process.
The coaches sent Montgomery a video playbook Monday after the trade was complete. She was scheduled to meet with the coaches upon her arrival Tuesday night. Montgomery, a point guard with a scorer’s mentality, can play either guard position. She’ll likely play a little of both Wednesday whether or not she starts.
Moore, who played two seasons — and won a championship — with Montgomery at the University of Connecticut, said Montgomery won’t take long to fit in.
“She’s a basketball player,” Moore said. “She knows how to play with great players. It will be good. She can pass the ball, shoot; teams can’t sag off her. She’ll communicate. She’s smart.”
The Lynx have the All-Star break, but could have Whalen back when they return to practice Monday. But if not, Montgomery and Cruz figure to play a lot of minutes until Whalen returns.