Odyssey Sims has already helped the Shock reach new heights in her first season, but now she’s hoping a shoulder injury doesn’t keep her from leading the team to its first playoff appearance in Tulsa.
With Sims’ status uncertain, the visiting Shock look to move closer to the Western Conference’s final playoff spot while delivering a crushing blow to the Seattle Storm’s postseason hopes Sunday night.
Tulsa (12-19) boosted its chances of earning a playoff berth for the first time since 2009, when the franchise played in Detroit, by topping fourth-place San Antonio 79-62 on Friday.
The Shock moved within one game of the Stars for the final playoff berth with three games to play, though San Antonio holds the tiebreaker after winning three of the five meetings.
"We’re pushing for the playoffs but we’re taking it one game at a time," forward Glory Johnson said. "It’s been a tough push but it is three steps now (with road games at Seattle, Atlanta and Minnesota)."
The Shock already have recorded their most victories since moving to Tulsa, but they could have a difficult time adding to that total without Sims. The reigning rookie of the month led the way with 22 points Friday before going to the locker room after landing hard on her left shoulder late in the contest.
Sims has scored 24.6 per game while hitting 18 of 37 from 3-point range over her last eight. She finished with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting in an 80-74 home win over the Storm on July 29 after each club had won at home in June.
"She’s so crafty with the ball," backcourt mate Skylar Diggins said. "She’s a great finisher. She has a great body to be able to take the contact. She’s also light on her feet."
Seattle (11-20) may be turning things around a bit too late as it goes after a season-high third straight victory following a seven-game slide. The Storm moved within two games of San Antonio with Thursday’s 88-68 home win over East-leading Atlanta.
Seattle, which entered the contest averaging a WNBA-low 70.6 points, made 51.6 percent from the field and finished one shy of matching its season-high point total.
"To be able to get the lead is great," said guard Sue Bird, who finished with 10 points. "But to be able to hold them off and win the game by as much as we did is even more impressive."
Camille Little had 21 points and 13 rebounds and Crystal Langhorne scored 17 as the Storm kept alive their faint hopes of making the playoffs for an 11th straight season. They would be eliminated Sunday if they lose and the Stars beat Los Angeles.
Seattle’s Tanisha Wright has played well against the Shock this year, averaging 16.3 points – almost twice her season mark.
Johnson has averaged 17.3 points and 11.7 rebounds in the three meetings, and she can break Cheryl Ford’s single-season Shock record with her 18th double-double.