The Lynx are 4-0, Sylvia Fowles looks like an MVP, and their team defense might be even better than a season ago when they led the league in defensive rating.
But there are still glaring issues that are becoming all too familiar for the team. Tuesday night featured another inferior opponent hanging around late into the fourth quarter and another offensive performance overwrought with stagnation and turnovers.
Some of the team's issues can be traced to the current in-flux nature of the rotation and the minutes distribution. Coach Cheryl Reeve blamed some of it on fatigue, and spoke to what she can do to help the situation.
"I gotta get people out of the game, they don’t wanna come out of the game, but they gotta come out of the game," Reeve said.
Minnesota has played four games in nine nights. As of this posting they are one of only two teams that have played four games this season. Most teams have played three. Combine that with the physical realities of the oldest roster in the WNBA, and you can start to see how the team started the game as Reeve put it, "flat."
"I thought we came out really flat, honestly I thought our arena was flat today, I thought everything was flat, our intros, which are not ordinarily so flat. Everything was flat, not the fans fault, but it was flat. Everything was flat."
The Connecticut Sun took advantage of that flatness and turned the Lynx over 13 times in the first half. Many of those turnovers were of the 'live-ball' variety which Connecticut converted into fast break layups and open threes. Sun guard Jasmine Thomas hit three of her career high five three pointers in the opening half as the Lynx struggled to close-out open shooters. They also committed multiple shot-clock violations. These problems stemmed from the ball-pressure the Sun put on the Lynx perimeter players. The Lynx were unable to break down the Sun off the dribble or consistently find cutters, and the Sun had success blitzing the pick-and-roll.
Minnesota was much better to start the second half and finished the third quarter on a 21-8 run. Fowles asserted herself in the post, and Seimone Augustus found her range from the perimeter. Augustus finished with 18 points in her best outing of the season, following her game winner in Dallas on Saturday night.
The Lynx had a mostly comfortable lead in the final frame, but due to six turnovers and a couple of missed free throws, the game came down to the final moments. After a pair of missed free throws by Lindsay Whalen, the Sun had a final possession to tie or go ahead but were stopped multiple times by Sylvia Fowles who had five blocks in the game.
-Gopher Women's Basketball all-time leading scorer Rachel Banham made her Minnesota WNBA debut tonight after missing almost all of last season with a knee injury. She finally got into the game in the second half, received a standing ovation, missed two shots, and sat down after three minutes.
-The free throw advantage was huge for the Lynx. They went 15-22 from the stripe as the Sun were only 4-6. Minnesota currently leads the league in FTA per game.
-The team is not playing at Target Center this summer, but you better believe the in-arena music made the trip across the river to St. Paul. Whether you prefer the instrumental to Ludacris' "What's Your Fantasy," or Eve ft. Gwen Stefani's "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," all of your favorite Target Center soundtrack cuts are waiting for you at Xcel Energy Center.
A strange, yet fun home/away back to back against Connecticut! Should be fun to see what adjustments each team makes as they face off again.