We finally made it. The end of the regular season for the Lynx was last night as they hosted the Dream at the Target Center. They won’t be back here for a long time as the first two playoff games will be played at Xcel Energy Center over in St. Paul due to scheduling conflicts.
The Lynx have locked up the number one seed and home court advantage throughout the postseason but they still had something to play for in this game. The team had a chance to set the franchise record for wins in a season at 28. Not only that, they have 10 days off until their first playoff game so ending on a good note was key going into this break.
It wasn’t always pretty, but the Lynx managed to pull out the win, beating the Dream 95-87. It was a game that featured 42 common fouls, four technical fouls and countless reviews by the refs, which prevented either team from really getting into a rhythm. There were moments where the Lynx had double-digit leads but they could not pull away until the end. Neither team played great defense as both shot over 48 percent from the field.
Rebekkah Brunson didn’t play and Natasha Howard got the start in her place. She was playing great until she picked up three fouls in the second quarter, to give her four total before halftime. Add that to Sylvia Fowles three fouls in the first quarter and you can see that the frontcourt was a little light for the rest of the game.
Both players returned to the game after halftime and they took slightly different paths after that. The experienced Fowles only picked up one more foul in the game and she was a force to deal with. She ended the game with 30 points, eight rebounds, two steals and two blocks. I am not sure why the Dream didn’t attack her more to try to get her to commit fouls but they were having their own foul trouble to worry about as well.
Howard, on the other hand, eventually fouled out of the game. She had 11 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double. The third-year player isn’t as experienced as ‘Big Syl’ and with Brunson out, she wasn’t disciplined enough to stay on the floor. Though, one of her last fouls was one of the weakest ones I’ve seen, and these refs weren’t getting a standing ovation after the game from the fans.
It was interesting to see how the team played tonight given the foul situation. It allowed Cheryl Reeve to throw in some unique lineups in the final tune-up before the playoffs. We saw some small ball, new backcourt combinations and that translated to, at least last night, into worse defense. That could more relate to Brunson being out but that is the one thing Reeve wanted more of tonight. “Defensively, I wanted to be better than we were tonight,” Reeve said after the game. She gave credit to Atlanta’s three point shooting and Angel McCoughtry specifically, who poured in 18 points on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc.
Like I said, it wasn’t the prettiest of wins but a win is a win. The Lynx got 28 of them this year and now have 10 days until their next one. The players have three days off but not coach Reeve. “I am a preparer, so I will probably be stressed two of the next three days,” she said after the game. If she keeps doing what she’s been doing, the Lynx are in a great spot.