The Minnesota Lynx continue to separate themselves from the rest of the league. Last Saturday, they dispatched of third-place Seattle, and last night they made quick work of the second-place Washington Mystics, winning 98-73 in a game that was never close after halftime.
Back-to-back blowout wins against the two teams directly below them in the standings is impressive, and further cements the team's position atop the WNBA. While the Mystics entered Friday’s game having won five in a row, their loss Friday to Minnesota came without their best two players: Elena Delle Donne (groin strain), and Emma Meesseman (international play). Come September, these could be the best two teams in basketball, but for now, the Lynx look like juggernauts while the Mystics will spend the season putting together the pieces.
The Lynx set season highs in three-pointers made and attempted as they shot 11 of 24 from behind the arc. This must please the coaching staff, as boosting their three point attempts was a major point of emphasis before the season started. After finishing 11th out of 12 teams in attempts and makes last year, the Lynx are now 5th in 3PM and 4th in 3PA, with a quarter of the season in the books. They’re getting buy-in from players who, in previous seasons, would shy away from the long ball. Rebekkah Brunson has made more threes this season than in the previous 12 of her career. Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus are on pace to attempt more threes than they have in years. Three of Sylvia Fowles' career high five assists Friday resulted in made three point baskets. It's easier to find open looks from deep when you have the current MVP front runner drawing so much attention in the paint. The directive from coach Reeve to space the floor is being embraced by the team and we are seeing the results.
After dominating with defense through the first few games of the season, the offense has really come alive, especially over the last two games. The perimeter players have been making shots, and seeing Moore find the range is fantastic for Lynx fans. But we’re seeing a shift in how the Lynx play. For years they have relied on those perimeter stars to carry the bulk of the scoring load, with Brunson and whoever occupied the center spot setting screens and rebounding. Adding a star in Sylvia Fowles gave them another weapon, but this season we’re seeing the front court take on a lot more scoring responsibility. Fowles and Brunson led the team in shot attempts last night with 15 and 12 respectively, which follows the season trend in which both those players are taking more shots than last season, while the other three starters are all down.
In 2016, the Minnesota Lynx set a WNBA record by starting the season 11-0. We're at the point in this season where topping that sterling start appears to be in play. Their next four games feature only one team (Washington) with a winning record, and at this point the Lynx look like they can beat anyone. With how this team is playing right now, it’s hard to imagine them losing at all, let alone sometime in their next four games.
-With the win on Friday, Lindsay Whalen officially passed Swin Cash as the winningest player in the history of the league. She has now won 295 WNBA games.
-Rebekkah Brunson was fantastic again, scoring the ball inside and out. She followed up her season-high 21 point performance in Seattle on Saturday with a 17-point game in DC.
-Maya Moore had her best shooting night of the season, scoring 17 points on eight shot attempts. I attribute her early season shooting slump to shot selection as much as anything else. She's been guilty of some tough, off the dribble, heavily-defended perimeter shots on occasion.
The Lynx travel to Dallas to wrap up a three-game road trip. Dallas has been struggling of late but also got a big win on Friday, beating the defending champs, the LA Sparks.