Kia Nurse, New York Liberty slated to battle Seattle Storm in WNBA season opener

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    The WNBA revealed a revamped schedule Monday that will begin on July 25 and include all 12 teams in action on the opening weekend, with games to take place exclusively at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

    The schedule will kick off with consecutive days of nationally televised tripleheaders and will open with the Seattle Storm taking on the New York Liberty in an afternoon contest. The Phoenix Mercury will take on the Los Angeles Sparks on the opening day, followed by the champion Washington Mystics facing the Indiana Fever.

    The season was supposed to begin May 15 but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. Instead of games being played across the country, all games were relocated to a single location in Florida.

    During the 132-game schedule (22 games per team), players and coaches will be sequestered at the IMG Academy. After the regular season concludes on Sept. 12, the first and second round of the playoffs will be single elimination, followed by five-game series for the semifinals and WNBA Finals.

    The Storm-Liberty opener will match the return of a pair of WNBA stars in Seattle’s Breanna Stewart and Sue Bird against the future of the league in the Liberty’s Sabrina Ionescu and Kia Nurse. Stewart (Achilles), the 2018 WNBA MVP, and Bird (knee) missed the 2019 season, while Ionescu was the No. 1 overall selection in the April draft. Nurse is entering her second season after earning an all-star nod in her first campaign.

    The Mystics are still awaiting word on whether 2019 MVP Elena Delle Donne will play. She is waiting on a medical exemption for 2020 and has not yet joined the team in Florida.

    “This 2020 WNBA season will truly be one unlike any other, and we’re looking forward to using our collective platform to highlight the tremendous athletes in the WNBA as well as their advocacy for social change,” WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a release.

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