With the WNBA season drawing closer to its conclusion, our WNBA weekly Canadian recap series is back with another installment in what was an important week for all three Canadians and their respective teams.
Both the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx had three games each this past week as they fought for seeding near the end of the season. The two aforementioned squads with Canadian content are in playoff spots and playing good basketball, and so there will be no shortage of excitement for WNBA fans north of the border from here on out.
Kia Nurse – G – Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury had an outstanding week as a collective, going a perfect 3-0 and getting closer to solidifying themselves as a playoff team for this year’s postseason. For Kia Nurse specifically though, it was a tough week offensively in a season full of offensive inconsistencies. When Nurse is on her game, she is nearly unstoppable and can be one the best players in the league, but unfortunately the past seven days did not showcase that.
The Mercury’s first game of the week was a crucial 84-80 win over the Fever on Thursday night, with big performances from Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner who carried the offensive load. Nurse played well enough defensively but finished with 5 points and 3 assists on 2/8 shooting in a game that saw her struggle to find rhythm compared to her two big-name teammates.
On Thursday, the Mercury defeated the Mystics by a score of 77-64, giving them their third win in a row and moving them above the .500 mark. Nurse’s offensive struggles continued with only 2 points on 1/5 shooting, although it’s notable that her minutes were down considerably, only getting 19 minutes of playing time on the night.
Nurse regained a bit of confidence in the Mercury’s Saturday night victory over the Dream though, where she went back to playing 30+ minutes. Nurse only scored 4 points on 1/4 shooting but was able to grab 5 rebounds and do a lot of other things away from the basketball really well.
Moving forward, the Mercury are going to need more out of the Canadian star for the rest of this playoff push, but the good news is that Nurse has proven time and time again that she is able to get hot and turn things on very quickly.
Bridget Carleton – F – Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx and Canadian Bridget Carleton had a bit of an up-and-down week, finishing 1-2 but playing well enough to keep themselves in a playoff position near the top of the Western Conference.
The Lynx’ first game of the week was a 72-60 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Tuesday night, in a game that saw Carleton play pretty well in her 20 minutes of action. The Canadian shot 2/4 and finished with 5 points 2 rebounds and an assist, doing what she could to play her role and help her team get a result. The Sun are a powerhouse though, and seemed to be too much for the Lynx for the entirety of the game.
The rematch between the Lynx and Sun took place 2 nights later, where the Lynx unfortunately suffered the same fate, falling 82-71. Carleton played a solid all-around game finishing with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 4 assists off of the bench, but it once again wasn’t enough to overturn the dominant brand of basketball that the Sun have been playing as of late.
Minnesota was able to get some of their mojo back in their next outing on Saturday night though, winning a high-flying affair by a score of 101-95 over the Chicago Sky. The Lynx came out hot and never looked back, and Carleton shot 2/2 on the night.
The Lynx have found themselves in the middle of a big playoff race heading into September, and if Carleton is able to keep pitching in within her role off the bench, the Lynx have a chance to do some serious damage in the postseason this year.
Natalie Achonwa – F – Minnesota Lynx
The other Canadian on the Lynx is forward Natalie Achonwa, who had been out with injury for several weeks before the start of the Olympics.
After missing so much time and losing a bit of her role on the team, you can tell that Achonwa is still doing her best to get back into the flow of things, and that the process may take a few more weeks yet.
Achonwa played 20 minutes in the Lynx’s Tuesday night loss to the Sun, and finished with 2 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists on just 1/5 shooting. The two remaining games of the week saw the Canadians minutes decrease heavily though, as she only averaged 8 minutes of playing time on Thursday and Saturday. Achonwa finished with 2 points on Thursday but was unable to record a point two nights later, after only taking 1 shot attempt.
The future is definitely still bright for Achonwa, but it’s going to take her a bit of time to get readjusted in Minnesota, and the hope for Canadians fans will be that she continues to get more comfortable and find a role on the bench as time moves on. In the meantime, it’s nice to just see her healthy and back on the floor.