canada africa partner reservation Mercury’s Griner could make season debut Friday at home vs. Lynx

Mercury’s Griner could make season debut Friday at home vs. Lynx

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There’s no better place than home for the Phoenix Mercury (4-6) to regroup after dropping five of their last six, which were mostly road games.

It certainly makes a difference that Brittney Griner and extra starter Bec Allen are close to returning from injuries and participating in the team’s first full practice in 16 days.

“It was a return to playing to 10 days this past week, so we’ll see how she responds today,” Tibbetts said of Grinner. “Hopefully we’ll see her back in uniform soon.”

Griner made her first appearance since being sidelined with a toe injury on her left foot after their first preseason game, including a scrimmage. The six-time All-Star center had five points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the preseason loss to the Seattle Storm on May 7.

‘It’s good to have her back. We’re going to have to show her some grace by going out like this,” Sophie Cunningham said. “It’s crazy that we’re already 10 games in and we haven’t seen her play yet this season, which is weird. But she’ll be great. Anytime you can have your 6-7, 6-8 girl down there, It’s going to be fun for us. It’s going to draw a lot of attention. Open up more shots for us at the three-point line and it’s refreshing to have her back.”

Tibbetts spoke about the key things he and the medical staff want to monitor for Griner’s regular-season debut and Allen’s comeback.

“First, you always want her to feel safe,” Tibbetts said. “You never want to field a player who doesn’t feel comfortable there. I’m sure our medical team is talking to her and making her feel … see where she is today.”

Allen is working her way out of the concussion protocol after missing the past five games following Phoenix’s home loss to the Dallas Wings on May 25. The wing averages 5.8 points and 3.6 rebounds.

After practice, the Mercury listed Griner and Allen as questionable for Phoenix’s home game against the WNBA third-ranked Minnesota Lynx (7-2) Friday at 7 p.m. at Footprint Center. Minnesota maimed the Mercury last Friday, 95-71.

“It’s just exciting to have them back on the team,” Tibbetts said. “They haven’t been with us because we were on the road, so hopefully we’ll get some good news for tomorrow.”

Phoenix has lost five of its past six games, including a four-game skid that started at home against Dallas on May 25, then at Connecticut, New York and Minnesota last week. After the Mercury’s 87-68 breeze past the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday, Phoenix suffered an 80-62 blowout at the Seattle Storm on Tuesday.

“I haven’t played a minute yet and I’m tired,” Tibbetts said of their recent schedule. “I have a lot of respect for our players. When you go on a road trip like that, you usually stay out east, but we were there for three, came home for one that felt like a road game, and then went to Seattle. That was for us a difficult period.”