What a difference a year can make.
When the Minnesota Lynx and the Seattle Storm faced off against each other for their first regular season matchup of the 2018 season on June 26, 2018 in Minnesota, the Lynx came away with a 91-79 victory over the Storm.
Leading the way to victory for Minnesota was Maya Moore, who grabbed 32 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Behind her was Rebekkah Brunson with a near triple-double of nine points, nine rebounds and six assists and Lindsay Whalen with five points and four assists.
For Seattle and head coach Dan Hughes, Breanna Stewart tallied a team-high 27 points, six rebounds and three steals, followed by Sue Bird with a near double-double of nine points and nine assists.
Fast forward to almost exactly a year later, the first 2019 regular season game between the Lynx and Storm will have a much different feel this time around.
When the Storm rumble into Target Center on Wednesday night to take on the Lynx in the second game of the regular season, the five WNBA All-Stars and future Hall of Fame players, along with Seattle’s championship head coach, won’t be in uniform or on the sidelines for either team.
In fact, we might not see any of them for the entirety of the season.
For the Lynx — who enter the game at 1-0 following Saturday’s season-opening win over the Chicago Sky in Minneapolis — they won’t have Moore around to drop 30-plus points, nor will they have Brunson to record a near triple-double, or have Whalen orchestrating the offense and being an emotional leader at point guard.
For the Storm — who also come into the game at 1-0 after beating the Phoenix Mercury in the season opener — they won’t have Stewart to go back-and-forth with Moore while lighting things up offensively, nor will they have Bird to spread the floor and match Whalen’s leadership and intensity, or have Hughes yelling out instructions from the sideline.
All five players and Seattle’s coach are either injured, departed or retired, giving this matchup a much different feel than what we saw in past seasons and even just a year ago.
Since the two teams played in 2018, Moore announced she would be taking off the 2019 summer, Brunson has continued to try and battle back from a concussion she suffered in 2018 and Whalen has since retired and is now the head coach of the University of Minnesota women’s basketball program.
For Seattle, who went on to win the 2018 WNBA title, Stewart tore her Achilles during the offseason, which will force her to miss the entire year, while Bird announced right before the start of the season that she will be undergoing knee surgery that will sideline her indefinitely. Hughes, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, has stepped away from the team for now after having surgery a few weeks ago.
Although there still are some familiar faces on both rosters, Wednesday’s game between the Lynx and Storm will look different than what we’ve seen in the past.
We are about to see on Wednesday night who will be impacted the least by the roster turnover and who can come away with the win at Target Center.