- Nancy Lieberman, Basketball analyst / Writer
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The status of Sacramento's starting point guard is up in the air for the WNBA Finals. Now, Connecticut's Lindsay Whalen is questionable, too.
The Sun point guard was diagnosed Monday with a nondisplaced fracture of the tibia in her left knee. Team officials said Whalen is not expected to play in Wednesday's Game 1 or Thursday's Game 2 -- both of which will be at Mohegan Sun Arena -- and might not be able to play at all in the series.
The injury occurred in the first half of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals when Whalen collided with Indiana guard Tully Bevilaqua. Whalen noticeably winced after the play, but returned to play the second half, and scored 13 of her 14 points after intermission. However, she underwent an MRI on Sunday after continued swelling and pain.
"Obviously, this is very disappointing," Connecticut Sun coach
Mike Thibault said. "But we have a lot of very good players, and
we are capable of winning this series with the players who will
Whalen practically willed the Sun past Detroit in the first round, averaging a playoff-best 20.0 points per game. After Connecticut's sweep of Indiana in the East finals, Whalen's averaging 16.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists and has been the cog in the Sun's machine.
Since Connecticut is so starter heavy this season, this is a devastating loss and will impact the Sun much worse than it did Sacramento. The Monarchs, Connecticut's WNBA Finals opponent, was in a similar position a week ago when starting point guard Ticha Penicheiro suffered a severely sprained ankle just two days before the West finals began. But because Sacramento used a 10-player rotation this season, back-up guards such as Kara Lawson had played starters' minutes and been on the floor when games were in the balance.
Second-year player Jennifer Derevjanik, a 5-foot-10 guard who is expected to take Whalen's place in the lineup, has played in all four of the Sun's playoff games, but she has only averaged 6.5 minutes per game. Jamie Carey, who will now be Derevjanik's backup, played in just two playoff games, averaging 10 minutes. Whalen was averaging 36.5 minutes in the playoffs.
Whalen has been one of the best players this season but was snubbed as an All-Star selection last July.
Team trainer Georgia Fischer said Whalen is getting about 12
hours of treatment each day, including electrical stimulation,
dietary supplements and acupuncture. Whalen successfully used
acupuncture when she fractured her hand her senior year at
Fischer said the fracture is in the anterior portion of the knee
away from the area that receives most of the stress when running.
"So there's a glimmer of hope that if it settles down she might
be able to play because this tiny crack is so forward," Fischer
Nancy Lieberman, an ESPN analyst and Hall of Famer, is a regular contributor to ESPN.com's women's basketball coverage. Contact her at www.nancylieberman.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.