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Tiger Style

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Lynx isn't good enough.  They're small and kind of cute. What the Minnesota professional women's basketball team is doing to teams right now requires something more fierce, more untamed, more badass.  

Tigers are the pinnacle of cat-based predatory menace.  Imagine your house kitty blown up to a quarter of a ton, camouflaged, saddled with the muscular head of a pit bull and equipped with surgical cutting devices for teeth and claws.  Tigers are our peers only by way of our own mental faculty.  Physically, we have nothing to compete with them.  Were you to encounter a tiger in the wild, the only thing that will save you is the good graces of the tiger--perhaps its boredom or disinterest in eating a long piggish-tasting and relatively skinny (for most) creature. I'm pretty sure if it came down to it, I could punt a Lynx.  

The Minnesota Lynx Tigers are murdering their peers right now.  They are toying with their opponents and, at times, it honestly looks like there is absolutely nothing rival squads can do to stop the home team. The Tigers have won 7 out of their last 8 and the only reason it isn't 8 in a row is because Phoenix went nuts from beyond the arc in the 2nd half of a 112-105 loss. 

The Tigers are going up by 20+ on their opponents at a frightening rate. They do so with balanced, both-ends-of-the-court smart play.  Think about everything you have heard David Kahn say he wants to build with the Wolves.  All of that is happening right now with the Tigers. They have legit star power.  Their point guard is an aggressive tough player (from Hutch, no less) who takes risks and pushes the tempo.  Their big shot rookie shows flashes of intense brilliance.  Their former sole star player has returned to form and turned into a dominant force.  They have a collection of players who fill in the remaining gaps and numbers with obvious competence and professionalism.  They are well coached and, again, smart.  Think about everything you have seen with the men's squad over the past 5-6 years.  Take that, flip it 180 degrees and there you have the Tigers. 

Folks, I don't care what you think you know about women's ball.  I don't think it is outrageous to suggest that what is going on over at Target Center right now just might be the beginnings of the greatest women's team ever assembled. They are clearly the best team relative to their league in recent Minnesota history.  They will only get better.  They may even get another top pick in next year's draft (thanks to a deft move with the Washington Mystics).  

Best of all, the players actually seem like they enjoy playing.  It is infectious and you are missing out on a fantastic sporting event if you choose to miss a game. 

The Tigers next game is tomorrow at 2:00 vs. San Antonio.  You can watch the game on NBA TV or here

BTW: As the father of 3 daughters who are very, very, very interested in sports (soccer, swimming and running), it is not lost on me (and should not be lost on you) that the best national sports moment in the last year is a women's soccer match (USA v. Brazil...with Wombach's header being the highlight) and the best local team is a women's pro squad.  Rich owners and obscenely corrupt olympic groups have ruined a lot of things about sports.  They haven't killed the WNBA or upper level-women's soccer.  

UPDATE: Swish Appeal weighs in on the game here:

In contrast, the Lynx were quietly playing balanced, efficient, team basketball. All five Lynx starters contributed to their first 11 points. In getting out to an early 7-0 lead, the Lynx had a Moore three, a putback off an offensive rebound by Taj McWilliams-Franklin, and a Seimone Augustus jumper. Their 11th point came on a free throw by Brunson. Not that the second half really mattered much, but the Lynx shot 70% in the third quarter continuing to play balanced basketball even as the rout was in full effect.

Despite the scoring flow, the Minnesota Lynx truly outplayed the Storm from start to finish again. And although they got out played in garbage time, they didn't allow the Storm to cut the lead down to single digits as they did in the first game of the season.

What makes the Lynx great this season is strikingly similar to what made the Storm historically good last season: a balanced, versatile starting lineup led by a strong post player, strong wing play and an elite point guard. The big difference is depth that means they don't need dominant performances from any one player to win games. Every player plays to their strengths and complements one another almost to perfection.

It's not at all common to see a WNBA team play basketball as fluidly as the Lynx did last night without a lead ball handler with above average efficiency. But what the Lynx did last night shows just how dynamic and versatile a team they can be on both ends of the ball with everyone working together as a team and filling in blanks when key players have sub-par nights.

It's a beautiful brand of basketball that is quite likely still hitting its peak.