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Jun 6, 2024 9:13 pm

Napheesa Collier leads Lynx into matchup with Mercury

Napheesa Collier

The high-flying Minnesota Lynx are going for their fourth straight win when they visit the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night in a Western Conference matchup.

Minnesota (7-2) leads the West and is two games behind Connecticut for the top record in the league, while fourth-place Phoenix (4-6) hopes to build on its 3-1 home mark. Overall, however, the Mercury have lost five of their last six games.

The Lynx are coming off an 86-62 win on Wednesday over the Los Angeles Sparks, with early MVP candidate Napheesa Collier collecting 25 points and nine rebounds.

Collier has the WNBA’s fourth-highest scoring average (21.8 points per game) and third-highest rebounding average (11 per game). She has scored at least 20 points in six of Minnesota’s nine games. Her season-low (14) came against the Mercury on May 31 in Minneapolis, although she played just 26 minutes in the Lynx’s 95-71 win.

Wednesday’s victory over Los Angeles was Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve’s 307th regular-season win, moving her past Bill Laimbeer into second place on the WNBA’s all-time list.

“What you’re seeing is a genuine, authentic bond,” Reeve told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We have a way about us. We don’t care who gets the credit.”

The Mercury continue to play without star center Brittney Griner (broken toe). In what could be the final season for star Diana Taurasi, Phoenix is still trying to find an identity under new head coach Nate Tibbetts and a re-worked roster.

One of the new players is Kahleah Copper, who is third in the WNBA in scoring at 22.5 points per game.

The Mercury rely a good deal on 3-point shooting, but they made just 4 of 23 attempts (17.4 percent) in an 80-62 loss at Seattle on Tuesday. Copper had 19 points and seven rebounds.

Another new player is Natasha Cloud, who spent her first eight seasons with the Washington Mystics. Cloud is averaging 12.1 points, 7.4 assists and 4.7 rebounds in a career-high 33.1 minutes.

She has found Phoenix to be a better place for her to play and live.

“I think more than anything, I feel safe and embraced to be 100 percent me,” Cloud told Cronkite News. “I just get to be me on the court. With everything this organization offers off the court, I only have to worry about basketball. This is the first time I’ve only had to worry about basketball in nine years.”

–Field Level Media

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