Phoenix expects Lyttle to play ‘limited minutes’ on Friday at home.
PHOENIX — Throughout the offseason, the status of Sancho Lyttle after a torn ACL in July 2018 has been one of the central questions for the Phoenix Mercury roster. As they get ready to size themselves up in a matchup in which they will sorely need her, Lyttle on Thursday was officially listed as questionable against Las Vegas.
“Her knee wasn’t quite ready,” to play in Seattle in the season opener May 23, coach Sandy Brondello told High Post Hoops after practice on Thursday. “We want to bring her back when she’s mentally and physically ready to go.”
That didn’t happen ahead of an opening loss to the Storm, but Brondello is optimistic Lyttle will be ready to go against A’ja Wilson, Liz Cambage and Las Vegas. Brondello said Lyttle had a good week of practice between games and the forward’s knee has responded well to being tested a little more. It hasn’t swelled, Brondello said, which is a good sign.
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While the Mercury may want to take full advantage of the return of the six-time WNBA All-Defensive team forward to the lineup, Brondello said Lyttle’s minutes will be limited if she does indeed play as expected.
Veteran big Camille Little was also upgraded on the injury report to questionable after dealing with an ankle injury in the preseason, though it’s unclear whether she will take the floor against Las Vegas.
That means the Mercury will have their hands full, like most teams, with the Wilson-Cambage duo, though Phoenix has the unfortunate luck of facing them first.
The key, according to Griner, to stopping them, will be “congesting (the key), making it a wall.” Personally, Griner is excited for the challenge. The 6-8 center loves facing opposing bigs who can match her length and size and has competed against Cambage across the world over the course of their careers.
“We normally go one-on-one,” Griner said, “but I’m sure (Aces coach) Bill (Laimbeer) probably will throw in some traps and congestion to funk it up, so I’m looking forward to the game.”
Yet the challenge of facing Las Vegas is not merely how to counter Cambage, make her work defensively, and force the ball out of her hands. By trading for the Australian center without giving up Wilson, defending the Aces at this point appears to be a zero-sum game.
Phoenix will get the first crack at doing so, though likely with Lyttle active.
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