Nine days ago the Lynx kicked off a three game winning streak by easily dispatching Atlanta at Target Center. Friday night in Atlanta the Dream turned the tables on Minnesota and ended what they had a hand in starting.
It was an offensive slog for both teams. The combined points scored in this game (113) was the lowest number in any WNBA game this season. Minnesota’s 53 points was their fewest in over nine years. The shooting percentages were ghastly. The Lynx and Dream shot 38% and 37% respectively in effective field goal percentage (eFG% adjusts for the fact that three-point field goals count for three points). The season average for that stat this season in WNBA is 47%.
All that clanking led to many available rebounds. One of the main reasons the Dream won this game was their front court’s performance on the glass. Elizabeth Williams and Jessica Breland did much of the damage for Atlanta. Their bigs had a field day in the lane. Especially in the first half where they scored 22 of their 26 points in the paint. Williams did her best Sylvia Fowles impression as she operated in the down low while Breland knocked down mid-range jump shots. Both players wrecked havoc on the offensive glass combining for eight of the team’s 15 o-boards. Much of their success stemmed from the fact that Fowles was limited in first half playing time due to foul trouble.
Minnesota played better in the second half defensively. They limited Atlanta’s second chance points, and only let the Dream score four points in the paint. However they failed to put together a run to take control. The fourth quarter was tough to watch with both teams combining for only eight made baskets. There were not many friendly bounces, lucky breaks, or shooter’s touch moments in this game.
The Lynx achilles heel is their half court offense. They struggle to put enough shooting on the floor around Fowles and they lack players who can score one-on-one when everything else breaks down. Despite this, Minnesota impressively possesses the fourth best offensive rating in the league. They score efficiently on the back of their defense turning steals into layups. Minnesota also is quite good in the paint where Fowles can post up and their guards can penetrate.
Big performances by role players has been another way for the Lynx to generate points. Outside of Fowles, Odyssey Sims and Danielle Robinson, the team needs others to step up and score the ball. Against Atlanta nine days ago it was Talbot’s career-high 24. In Connecticut on Saturday it was Collier and Coates combining for 18. Asia Taylor’s career-high 13 in Chicago on Wednesday was the difference in the game. With their starters struggling on Friday, the Lynx needed a boost from their bench players and it was nowhere to be found. Given the injuries this season, the team has actually done well to have a quality offense overall, but it’s nights like this that put into stark relief the team’s need for its upcoming reinforcements.
The WNBA announced the roster voted to start in the 2019 All Star game. For the first time in the Cheryl Reeve-era the Lynx will not have a player in the starting lineup. It seems like Sims and Fowles will be named as reserves on Monday.
Nine points is the second lowest point total of the season for Odyssey Sims. She only shot 3-12 and wasn’t as aggressive at getting into the paint or to the free throw line. Tiffany Hayes really bothered her.
Napheesa Collier had a nightmare game offensively. She only shot 2-11 and had a number of very makable shots rim-out. This is a night to forget for the rookie.
Atlanta has now won three of their last four games. They’ve had a rough start to their season and are currently the 12th place team in the league standings, but they won’t finish there. They have too much talent and their defense seems to be rounding into form.
Sometimes the best way to put a performance like this behind you is to play another game ASAP. Minnesota has that opportunity this weekend as they welcome the newly-healed Diana Taurasi and the Phoenix Mercury to Target Center on Sunday. Tip off is at 6pm.
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