WNBA: Lynx, likely without Napheesa Collier, prepare to face Mystics

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The Minnesota Lynx likely will be without their top player when they tip off against the Washington Mystics on Saturday evening in Minneapolis.

Napheesa Collier, who leads the Lynx with averages of 20 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, hurt her left foot in the team’s most recent game, Thursday against the Connecticut Sun. She is listed as doubtful to play against the Mystics.

Teammate Kayla McBride said it would take a team effort to replace Collier, a three-time All-Star who is set to play for Team USA in Paris this summer.

“I mean, she’s an MVP-candidate player,” McBride said. “We want her on the court with us, her dominance and presence at both ends.”

The Lynx (14-6) have the third-best record in the WNBA but have dropped their past two games against the top two teams, the New York Liberty and Sun. It is the first time Minnesota has dropped consecutive games this season.

The Mystics (5-16) sit near the bottom of the standings. They are coming off a 98-77 loss against the host Las Vegas Aces on Thursday, but they won their previous contest, beating the host Los Angeles Sparks 82-80 on Tuesday.

Shatori Walker-Kimbrough has been a recent bright spot for the Mystics. She has embraced her role as a bench player, and she takes pride as the leader of the second unit. She has scored at least 16 points in three of the past four games.

Walker-Kimbrough took on the role from ex-teammate Tianna Hawkins, who did not return this season.

“It’s one thing to say next woman up,” Walker-Kimbrough said. “It’s another thing to do and act like the next woman up. I try to not only preach that but also show it.”

Yet the Mystics’ struggles have proved frustrating for everyone involved.

Washington coach Eric Thibault said he would look for answers after the team allowed Las Vegas to shoot a season-high 59.4 percent from the field.

“Everybody in the locker room, staff, players, myself, obviously, have got to take accountability for it,” Thibault said. “I don’t think we can just flush it and say we’ll just move on. I’ll save most of my talking for (the) film (session).”

In addition to Collier’s doubtful status, the Lynx have ruled out reserve player Olivia Epoupa, who exited the Thursday game because of a thigh injury.

This is the first of four meetings between the Lynx and the Mystics in the regular season. They also faced each other this preseason, with Minnesota holding on for an 83-77 win.

–Field Level Media

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