For the last decade Lynx basketball has been synonymous with rebounding. Head coach and GM Cheryl Reeve demands that her players crash the glass. It’s a philosophy rooted in winning the possession battle. The Minnesota rebounding tradition has been proudly carried on by Taj McWilliams-Franklin, Rebekkah Brunson, Sylvia Fowles and now Napheesa Collier. Fowles leads the league in overall rebounds and offensive rebounds per game and Collier isn’t far behind in either stat as well. The team is second to Las Vegas in rebound percentage so far this season.
On Tuesday night the Lynx used a 42-31 rebounding advantage to blowout the Washington Mystics. They set the tone early grabbing five offensive boards in the first quarter. The Mystics are without their three starting quality front court players this season with Elena Delle Donne, Tina Charles and LaToya Hawkins sitting out. This leaves Washington at disadvantage against a big, glass-crashing team like Minnesota. The Lynx used those extra possessions to tally up a whopping 17 second chance points. If you miss, try, try again.
Powered by their defense and rebounding Minnesota was in control for the majority of the game, but the contest also took some wild twists and turns. Overall the Lynx controlled the glass and did a better job generating efficient offense. They made a big statement just before halftime ripping off a 18-2 run to take a 19 point lead into the locker room. Then things got weird.
It’s not uncommon in a basketball for an early lead to dissipate as the game goes on. “It’s a game of runs” is a cliche for a reason. It’s true! It’s how the game typically works. The runs in this game fit perfectly into each of the final two quarters, and they were the inverse of each other. Washington outscored Minnesota 17-4 in the third, and The Lynx outscored the Mystics 16-4 in the fourth. Both teams had stretches of poor ball movement and low-quality isolation play.
After that shell-shocking third quarter Minnesota looked like a brand new team entering the fourth quarter. They immediately got Fowles (16 pts, 13 rbs) involved in the post and launched into a 10-0 runs that put the game out of reach for Washington. This was a scrappy, sometimes ugly game. But the Lynx are perfectly suited to win that type of contest. With defense as their constant they can compete with every team in the league.
Tough times for Washington. They were the surprise story in the first week after starting 3-0. Now they’re 3-5.
Collier shot 2-12 from the field in another tough offensive outting. Both Reeve and Collier talked after the game about how opponents are playing her to drive and the need for Collier to mix up her shot profile with more attempts from outside.
Mikiah Herbert Harrigan had her first hot streak of the season. Kiki scored seven straight points to close out the first half. She seems to slowly be earning more opportunity from Reeve.
The only team better at rebounding the basketball is Las Vegas and the Lynx will face them on Thursday. Who will grab more rebounds? Will Reeve wear a headband to match her old buddy Bill Laimbeer? Tip off is set for 8pm.
Watch: ESPN, TSN