The WNBA’s top teams square off for the second time in 10 days Sunday, though it’s unclear whether one of the premier players in the league will take part in the marquee matchup between the Minnesota Lynx and New York Liberty.
Minnesota’s Maya Moore exited Friday’s 81-65 win over Indiana late in the third quarter after being struck in the nose by an elbow from teammate Sylvia Fowles. Indications are that the injury isn’t serious, but the reigning league MVP could sit out with the Lynx (21-10) owning a comfortable lead in the Western Conference.
The Lynx trail New York (21-9) in the race for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
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"I would do whatever necessary to get on the court and hope for as little distraction as possible, but we’ll see," Moore told the team’s official website.
Missing injured All-Stars Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, the Lynx shot 53.1 percent against the Fever and led nearly the entire way to earn a second straight win. They had dropped four of five, a stretch capped by an 81-69 road loss to New York on Aug. 28.
That began a three-game win streak that put the Liberty on the brink of clinching the East’s No. 1 seed, but an 82-60 loss to Chicago on Thursday kept their magic number at two.
The Liberty struggled at both ends in their most lopsided defeat of the season. New York went 0 for 7 from 3-point range and allowed the Sky to make 9 of 15 from beyond the arc, while star center Tina Charles finished 8 for 24 from the field.
"This is one game where we didn’t have it," coach Bill Laimbeer said. "It was a good lesson for us when it comes to the energy and effort that we are going to need for the playoffs. Tonight they had it and we didn’t."
A potential season-ending injury to guard Brittany Boyd compounded the Liberty’s problems. The rookie, fifth on the team with 6.6 points per game, underwent surgery Friday to repair a fractured left wrist and is expected to miss five to six weeks.
Boyd’s absence may force New York to rely even more on Charles and guard Epiphanny Prince, the Eastern Conference player of the month for August after averaging 17.8 points, 4.2 assists and 2.6 steals.
Both were factors Aug. 28, with Prince scoring 22 points and Charles adding 18 and 11 rebounds. Moore led all players with 25 points.
The Liberty have won two straight against Minnesota, but have dropped three in a row at the Target Center.