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Preview: Can the Mystics contain Napheesa Collier?

Napheesa Collier and the Minnesota Lynx will try to get back in the win column on Wednesday versus the Washington Mystics.

Minnesota Lynx v Washington Mystics Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx face off against the Washington Mystics on Wednesday night on NBA TV at 8 pm ET in a game both teams want to win to improve their position in the standings.

The Lynx have struggled all season to rack up wins. At 10-13 and losers of four and their last five, Minnesota is holding onto the seventh seed. The main reason the season is still salvageable and playoff seeding is in hand: Napheesa Collier.

Collier is averaging 21.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists. She is having a career year, is the leader of the Lynx and is on the short list of MVP candidates. She is the key factor in this and every game Minnesota plays. To give them the best chance at winning, the Lynx need Collier to have monster games. Opponents, in turn, must try to slow her down as much as possible.

There is no stopping Collier, but you can contain. On the defensive end, make her exert as much energy as possible. When defending Collier, force her out of the spots she likes to receive the ball on the floor and, when she gets the ball, double team her the instant she takes possession. That’s easier said than done! But that’s the job the Mystics' front court will have on Wednesday. If they struggle to contain Collier, it could be a long night in Minnesota.

Despite injuries to key players like Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins, the Mystics have been able to tread water. At 12-10, they’re still within reach of a top-four finish.

Beating the teams behind them in the standings, like the Lynx, will be crucial for Washington if they want to continue chasing the top teams in the WNBA. To do that on Wednesday, they’ll need guards Brittney Sykes and Natasha Cloud to continue being offensive threats. Both are averaging double-digits in points and had 23 points a piece in their most recent victory against the Phoenix Mercury.

The Lynx will counter the Sykes-Cloud combo with their top guards, Kayla McBride and Tiffany Mitchell. Watching which guard combo is more effective should make for a competitive game, with the guard group that manages to best the other likely swinging the final score.

Game information

Washington Mystics (12-10) vs. Minnesota Lynx (10-13)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Target Center in Minnesota, MN

How to watch: NBA TV

Mystics injury report: Ariel Atkins (out; ankle), Kristi Toliver (out; foot), Shakira Austin (out; hip), Elena Delle Donne (out; ankle)

Lynx injury report: Rachel Banham (out; thumb), Jessica Shepard (out; illness), Natalie Achonwa (not with team; maternity leave)