Lynx’s Collier could return as early as next week

·3 min read
Shari L. Gross, Star Tribune/Star Tribune/TNS

For the first time since giving birth to daughter Mila on May 25, Napheesa Collier took full part in practice with the Lynx on Saturday.

If all goes well in the coming days, there is a very good chance Collier will be able to fulfill her desire to take the court with center Sylvia Fowles in Fowles' last season. In fact, there is an outside chance Collier's debut could come Wednesday at Phoenix.

"She wants to," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of Collier, who worked with the second unit Saturday. "And I want to do that for her. But a lot depends on how things go."

Colllier's workouts have ramped up late. On the road with the team during a recently completed road trip, Collier ran stairs. She worked with head athletic trainer Chuck Barta in rather grueling workouts. On Friday, a day off for the team, Collier came in and took part in an intense scrimmage with a team of male players the Lynx brought in.

Collier practiced with the team Saturday, will take part in Sunday's shootaround before the game with Atlanta at Target Center and then will do another up-tempo workout with the male practice players Monday.

She will definitely not play Sunday. "No, she's not ready for that," Reeve said. "That wouldn't be right. Wednesday, if everything goes well, we'll see how her body is feeling, just see where she's at."

Collier, 25, is the 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year, a two-time All-Star forward and was Fowles' teammate on the Team USA team that won Olympic gold last year in Tokyo. She has said since giving birth her goal was to get back on the floor with Fowles, her close friend, before Fowles' 15-year career comes to an end.

The Lynx have four games remaining on their schedule, two at home. The Lynx play host to Seattle at Target Center Friday in Fowles' final regular season home game.

Here's the point

The point guard is always important to a team's success. Perhaps more so for the Lynx.

Moriah Jefferson has appeared in 26 games for the Lynx since joining the team. (She also played one game, a May loss, for Dallas.) In 11 victories across the season she is shooting 50% overall, has hit on 17 of 31 three-pointers (54.8%) and averaged 12.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 5.9 assists. In 16 losses she has shot 43.5% overall, 40.5% on threes and averaged 9.9 points and 3.9 assists.

Jefferson really started heating up — as did the team — in late June. There was a stretch when the team won seven out of 10 games. But Jefferson hyperextended her knee late in that run, in a victory over Chicago July 6. In the six games prior to that game Jefferson averaged 15 points per game. Playing through the pain, she averaged just 5.3 points over the next seven.

Jefferson is back to nearly full health. And the Lynx need her. Jefferson scored 36 points combined in back-to-back wins at Atlanta and Los Angeles before behind held to six in a loss at Seattle.

"When Moriah finds her success, we're successful,'' Reeve said. "No question about that. It's a lot of pressure on her, but she knows that.''

Allen re-signed

The Lynx re-signed backup guard Lindsay Allen to a third consecutive seven-day contract. It will run out before the team plays its season finale at Connecticut Aug. 14. Because no player can be signed to a fourth consecutive seven-day deal, Allen will be formally signed to a rest-of-the-season deal prior to the last game.