It has been a year of uncharted territory for the Minnesota Lynx. The league as a whole is deeper and more talented. The Lynx are used to a lofty perch atop the standings from where they accept, and easily dispatch all challengers.
This summer things are different. The losses are coming more frequently, and none of their players look like they belong at the 2018 WNBA all star game in Minneapolis in a little over a week. Furthermore, head coach Cheryl Reeve is searching for “mental toughness” and “the will to win” in her team.
“You can only do so much,” Reeve said. “You can’t give someone will. That’s internal.”
“This is a group that has done a lot together. It gets harder and harder to be them and I think we’re seeing that. In some cases they’re giving it everything they have. What’s in their tank, they’re giving it everything that they have. Obviously, the last couple games, its not good enough.”
Minnesota did play well to start the game. Lynx players cut to the rim for layups as soon as their defender left them to double Sylvia Fowles in the post. The entire first quarter was a spirited affair that finished with Connecticut leading by only four points. From that point on, things changed and the game got away from Minnesota.
The second and third quarters were especially bad.. With only 12 made baskets and a whopping 11 turnovers, the Lynx didn’t give themselves a chance to get into any sort of rhythm or flow. The home crowd kept waiting for anyone to put the team on their back, but no such thing occurred. The Sun went up ten with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter and held a double digit lead for the remainder of the game.
Sunday Sun’s Day
Connecticut was victorious because of transition opportunities, rebounds and three pointers.
The Sun are a team that likes to get out in the open court and push the ball. They succeed at doing that in this game as they outscored the Lynx in transition 14-0. Minnesota failed to get matched up on fast breaks allowing their opposition to have a number of open jumpers and open runs to the rim.
Despite both teams being adept rebounding squads near the top of most league-wide metrics, Connecticut simply embarrassed the Lynx on the glass. Minnesota was out rebounded 41-27 Sunday night. The most harmful of those boards coming on the offensive end where the Sun enjoyed a 13-7 advantage. Reeve commented on this after the game.
“We got killed on the glass,” she said. “That’s an effort area. That’s a passion area. That’s a ‘want to.’ There’s outweighed ours. That’s obviously disappointing.”
Finally, the Lynx were awful at closing out to Sun three point shooters. Players in orange jerseys seemed to have all day to load and release the long ball. Those shots were falling consistently for Connecticut as they hit 12-25 from beyond the arc. Four Sun players had at least two threes. Both in transition and in half court offense, the three ball kept the Lynx from ever putting together a serious run.
This loss is the latest setback for the franchise. The idea that this team can go back-to-back and win another championship seems farfetched at this point. The good news is that there are still 12 games remaining in the season. It will be difficult, and consistent improvement must begin now. As long as they’re peaking in August and September, they have the talent and pedigree to go on another Finals run.
Maya Moore only scored five points. She is in a nasty rut right now and it is unnerving to witness.
New Lynx 7 day signee Erlana Larkins played her first minutes in a Lynx uniform. Looks like she’ll get minutes at the 5 behind Fowles and Temi Fagbenle.
Former University of Minnesota star and current birthday girl Rachel Banham was a spark plug off the bench hitting three 3s and scoring 11 points.
The Sun are a really deep team (this is a common them across the league, they probably should have expansion). Any number of players can lead the team in scoring on a given night. Six players scored in double digits against Minnesota.
With the loss Minnesota falls to eighth place in the WNBA standings. Before Friday’s loss to Las Vegas they were in third place. The league is wild this summer.
The Lynx will close out their three game home stand Wednesday as they host Indiana and camp day! Thousands of children will pack Target Center. Tip off is at noon. Bring your earplugs (for real). You can watch it on Fox Sports Go, NBA TV and WNBA League Pass. You can listen at BOB 106FM.