The unofficial theme of this season for the Minnesota Lynx has been change. Other words like unprecedented, atypical, and uncharted have been accurately deployed all summer. The latest event to inspire the media to dig through those terms yet again occurred Sunday night as the Lynx did not start point guard Lindsay Whalen.
The last time Whalen came of the bench was in her WNBA debut way back in May of 2004. Since then, she has been in the starting lineup every game of her illustrious career. Cheryl Reeve cited pace and defensive issues as the catalyst in her decision. The lineup shuffle didn’t do much for the Lynx as they faced off against the juggernaut Storm.
MVP favorite Breanna Stewart put her stamp on the game by scoring 17 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. Natasha Howard in her second game back at Target Center had 21 points on 9-10 shooting. Minnesota was lead by Sylvia Fowles who had a game high 28 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
The Storm Perform
Seattle is a force to be reckoned with right now. They’re on pace to finish with the best record in basketball and seem like a lock to at least make the WNBA Finals. The pieces on the team just fit together really well. They easily have the best net rating in the league and when you watch them play its easy to see why. The Storm offense is efficient. They have the athletes and quickness to penetrate which opens everything up for shooters and cutters. All five of their starters need to be guarded out to the three point line.
On defense they are less terrifying, but only slightly. Despite not having a traditional center on the team, Stewart and Howard do a great job mucking things up, blocking shots and grabbing rebounds.
Minnesota played from behind most of the evening. The defining stretch of the game occurred in the first half of the fourth quarter. Minnesota opened the quarter on a 10-4 run that cut the Storm lead to four points. After a Seattle timeout the Storm proceeded to hit three straight three pointers, pushing the lead back up to 13 and never looked back.
This game was reminiscent of last Sunday’s matchup with Atlanta. Both outlined the difference between the Lynx and the true title contenders this season.
The decision to bring Whalen off the bench should have come earlier in the season. Danielle Robinson has been the superior player this year and it is curious that it took her sustaining a season-ending injury for the lineup change to occur. Whalen has posted career low numbers in points per game, assists per game, and field goal percentage. More importantly she’s out of shape and offers no resistance on defense.
Unfortunately, the starting lineup for this dynastic team isn’t totally decided by listing it’s five best players. Legacy concerns and the abiding belief in continuity also play a role in who starts for the Lynx. The case can be made that Whalen is the most important figure in the history of Minnesota basketball. To consider bringing her off the bench, even in this advanced stage of her career, is difficult. After the game Reeve discussed the decision.
“We just feel like we can move the ball up the floor easier (with Tanisha Wright), if (Whalen) is getting ball pressured it gasses her more quickly, then Seimone has to do extra things. We’re just trying to find ourselves as we head towards the playoffs.”
The move is inspired by the looming post season. Robinson’s absence lowers the Lynx’ ceiling and leaves even less room for error. With only a week remaining in the regular season, the Lynx are trying to catch lighting in a bottle.
- Moore had 12 points and seven rebounds at halftime. She finished the game with 12 points and seven rebounds.
- Rebekkah Brunson sat out again for the third straight game. She was elbowed in the face last Sunday against the Dream. Her absences in Chicago and Las Vegas this week were attributed to a nose injury. Today she was held out due to a concussion.
- With this win the Seattle Storm secured their first win in Minnesota since 2010.
- Clocking in at 91 minutes this was probably the fastest Lynx game of the season. Only ten total free throws were attempted.
Minnesota will practice Monday and return to action on Tuesday as they welcome Chicago to the Twin Cities. Tip off is at 7pm. You can see the game on Fox Sports GO and NBATV, or listen at BOB 106 FM.