As the calendar flips to September, the WNBA regular season is well and truly in its home stretch. In this edition of our WNBA Weekly Canadian Recap, we will break down the last week of August for the three Canadians and their respective teams, who all find themselves playing important basketball down the stretch.
It was a fairly quiet week for the Canadian-represented clubs in terms of scheduling, with the Phoenix Mercury playing twice and the Minnesota Lynx only in action once. This past week was the calm before the storm, as both teams will have a jam-packed schedule until the end of the regular season in mid-September.
Kia Nurse – G – Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury continued their impressive run of form this week in two matchups against the struggling New York Liberty, winning both games in blowout fashion. Canadian Kia Nurse had a bit of a bounce back week despite her point totals remaining low, taking better shots and allowing for the offence to come to her rather than forcing contested looks. The blowout results also factored into Nurse’s subdued stat lines, as the bench was given more of an opportunity to get some run.
The first of two wins against the Liberty came on the road on Tuesday evening, where the Mercury managed to drop over 100 points, in a 106-79 thrashing. Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi were stellar as usual, and Skylar Diggins-Smith showed out as well finishing with 27 points. With so much of the offence being taken up by those three players, Nurse was forced into more of a secondary role, and she looked fairly comfortable doing so. The Canadian shot an efficient 2/4 for 6 points, coupled with 4 rebounds in her return to the city that drafted her. It was visible that her offensive role shrunk, but Nurse looked more comfortable in her subdued role than she has in the previous few weeks.
The Mercury returned for another victory in New York on Friday, beating the Liberty 80-64 and improving their record to 15-10. Diggins-Smith exploded for another 27 points, and Nurse put up similar numbers to the game a few nights prior. Nurse finished with 6 points on 2/5 shooting to go along with 4 rebounds and an assist in just 17 minutes of playing time.
Nurse’s current role is a bit up in the air, but the Mercury as a whole have been firing on all cylinders and look to be rolling into the playoffs, where the Canadian will have a chance to step up and prove herself once again on the biggest stage.
Bridget Carleton – F – Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx only played once this past week, and it was a tough matchup against one of the title favourites this season: the Seattle Storm. Bridget Carleton has been a solid bench piece for the likely-playoff-bound Lynx this season, and she provided another solid performance this past Tuesday.
Carleton finished with 6 points on 2/2 shooting to go with 1 rebound, 1 assist and 2 steals in an efficient 16 minutes of action. She played strong team basketball on both ends of the floor and played a part in a big upset win, with the Lynx winning 76-70 despite entering proceedings as the underdog.
Just as we have been saying all season, Carleton is an important player for this team, and her fingerprints will be all over the rest of the Lynx playoff push as we make our way through the remainder of the schedule over the next few weeks.
Natalie Achonwa – F – Minnesota Lynx
Canadian Natalie Achonwa saw a little playing time this week in the Lynx 76-70 victory over the Seattle Storm, playing 3 minutes and recording a block.
Achonwa’s playing time has been a bit sporadic since returning from an MCL injury after the Olympics, and Canadian fans will be hoping that she can find her way back into the rotation as the Lynx gear up for an exciting playoff run.