The penultimate week of the WNBA regular season has reached its conclusion, which means it’s time for another edition of our WNBA Weekly Canadian Recap.
With most of the playoff seeds sorted, this past week’s action was filled with teams jockeying for position and building momentum heading into the playoffs, especially in the case of the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx; the two teams that have featured Canadian content on their roster all season long.
Kia Nurse – G – Phoenix Mercury
The Phoenix Mercury continued their red-hot form this past week, winning on both Monday and Wednesday to push their winning streak to 10 games before eventually falling to the Sun on Saturday. Canadian Kia Nurse has had an up-and-down campaign, but she found her rhythm two weeks ago with multiple dominant performances, and was looking to carry that momentum into these past seven days.
The Mercury’s first action of the week came against the Indiana Fever on Monday, and they picked up their 9th straight victory in an 86-81 win. Kia Nurse continued her recent hot run of form with one of her best performances of the season, scoring 19 points on 7/9 shooting to go along with 3 rebounds, 2 assists and a steal. Nurse had it going early on, and turned into one of the primary scoring threats on a stacked Mercury team that has called upon different players in the past. This performance amongst the few prior were important to show just how valuable Nurse is regardless of who she plays with, and showed once again that she can be a dominant player on the biggest stage.
Unfortunately for fans of Nurse though, the inconsistencies crept back into play during the remainder of the week. The Mercury won their 10th straight game this past Wednesday in a nail biter versus the Atlanta Dream, with the Canadian finishing on 6 points from 2/6 shooting, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. It wasn’t an awful performance from Nurse, but it was a stark contrast from the previous few outings, and it didn’t get much better on Saturday.
The Mercury saw their double-digit win streak get snapped against the juggernaut Connecticut Sun, and Nurse had her toughest struggles in weeks when it comes to shooting the basketball. Nurse managed to finish with 4 rebounds and 3 assists, but was only able to score 4 points on 1/8 shooting including 1/5 from long range. A bulk of the performance can be chalked up to just how good the Sun are, but they don’t explain the season-long inconsistencies.
When Nurse is on her game, she can be one of the best players in the WNBA, but she’ll have to prove it when it matters most as the Mercury currently hold the 5th seed in the league heading into the final week of play.
Bridget Carleton – F – Minnesota Lynx
The Minnesota Lynx continued their run to the postseason with another positive week, finishing 2-1 with back-to-back wins over the Fever following a tough loss to the Las Vegas Aces. Canadian Bridget Carleton began the week with her third straight start due to injuries, but was later moved back to her usual bench role as the week progressed.
The Lynx suffered a humbling defeat to the Aces this past Wednesday in blowout fashion, as the title contending Vegas squad was just too much for the Lynx to handle on both sides of the basketball. Carleton had a solid showing in her 27-minute start, finishing with 7 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and a block. The Canadian forward shot a less-than-ideal 3/9 from the floor, but the performance otherwise was pretty positive from Carleton, who kept herself within the flow of the game and showcased her ability to step up and make a difference when called upon.
The following game on Friday saw Carleton return back to the bench, but she played a great game in her reduced role. Carleton scored 8 points on 2/3 shooting going a perfect 2/2 from three, adding on a couple rebounds and 3 assists in the Lynx big win over the Indiana Fever. The win steered the ship back into clear waters for Minnesota, and was important for Carleton to show how valuable she can be as one of the first players off of the bench moving forward.
The Lynx wrapped up the week with another win over the Fever on Sunday, but unfortunately Carleton was unable to find the same success. The Canadian saw a sharp minutes cut, only playing 14 minutes, and without a field goal. Carleton finished with 2 points, 2 rebounds and 3 assists in a personal performance that she would likely want to forget, despite the great team effort.
The most consistent thing that Carleton brings to the court is hustle. Whether her shots are falling or not, she is usually able to make an impact for this Lynx team in one way or another, and that sentiment should continue into the final week of the season where they will likely rotate more of their squad and give different players more opportunities to prove themselves before the playoffs.
Natalie Achonwa – F – Minnesota Lynx
Natalie Achonwa has had to deal with a bit of an adjustment period since returning from injury, but she had one of her best stretches of the year this past week with multiple solid performances from the Canadian forward.
Achonwa only played 11 minutes off of the bench in the Lynx loss to the Aces, but still managed to grab 5 rebounds and dish 3 assists to go alongside 2 points. The numbers may not have been the flashiest, but Achonwa played a very sturdy game, and she would carry the positive momentum two nights later.