With three key players sidelined, the Minnesota Lynx are likely to have the depth of their short-handed roster tested during a busy portion of the schedule.
Minnesota's three stars, however, should help make things a lot easier on the defending champs.
As they begin a stretch of three games in four days, the Lynx try for their 11th straight win - including last year's playoff run - Friday night in the home opener for the Tulsa Shock.
Minnesota (2-0) has begun defense of its second title in three years without Rebekkah Brunson - who started 33 games in 2013 - and reserves Monica Wright and Devereaux Peters after all three had knee surgery.
Brunson isn't expected back until July, while Wright and Peters hope to return sometime next month. There is no injured reserve list in the WNBA, so the trio continues to occupy roster spots.
Damiris Dantas has shown promise, averaging 8.0 points and 10.5 rebounds in two starts. The Brazilian rookie finished with 10 points and nine boards while making all four of her shots in Sundays' 90-87 overtime win over visiting Connecticut.
Minnesota, which only used eight players, suffered a scare when Janel McCarville went down late with a sprained ankle. The center, though, participated in practice Thursday and is set to play against the Shock (0-1).
"McCarville knows what she's doing and just getting her help is good," coach Cheryl Reeve told the team's official website. "It's a group that, we're finding different line-up combinations so we've been able to work on a lot of different things."
The Lynx seek their eighth straight victory in Tulsa before returning home to face New York on Saturday night and traveling to Chicago on Monday. Including its perfect run through the postseason, Minnesota hasn't lost since Sept. 12 at Los Angeles.
Moore has scored 33.5 per game and Augustus is averaging 21.0 so far this season, though Whalen has shot just 39.1 percent with a 13.5 scoring average.
Augustus (20.7), Whalen (18.5) and Moore (17.0) played key roles in leading the Lynx to three wins in four meetings with the Shock in 2013. Augustus missed an 86-75 road win July 13 due to a sprained left ankle.
Following a rookie season in which she averaged 8.5 points, Tulsa's Skyler Diggins had a promising 2014 debut with 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds in an 80-76 loss in San Antonio on Saturday.
Glory Johnson added 15 points and Courtney Paris had 13 points and 14 rebounds for the Shock, who committed 15 turnovers and shot 32 percent in the fourth quarter.
Johnson totaled 46 points and 17 boards in two matchups against Minnesota last season before missing the last two because of neck and head injuries.
The Shock, who haven't won a home opener since 2009, ended a 14-game losing streak in the series with an 83-77 victory in Minneapolis on Aug. 16.
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