The 16-3 Seattle Storm are so dominant on both ends of the floor that a spirited debate can be had about whether their offense or their defense is more impressive. They not only lead the league in both offensive and defensive rating, but they’re also doing so comfortably. Seattle is the deepest team in the league, chocked full of two-way veteran players who know their role and execute well. One look up and down their roster is enough to make you wonder how they ever lose at all. Lynx fans- this is how the league looked at Minnesota’s team in 2017.
Take it from Cheryl Reeve, the most disappointing aspect of Sunday’s matinee was Minnesota’s inability to slow down Seattle’s high octane offense.
“(We had a) total disregard for our principals for what our defense is, and this is not the first (poor defensive performance). This has been brewing. Think about how many times we gave up 50 points in a half. This defensive team isn’t good enough to beat good teams. Facts. Without defense we’re going nowhere.”
Minnesota’s defense was porous. Statistically it was their worst performance of the season. Seattle set Lynx opponent season records in total points (103), points in a half (58), points in the paint (40), and assists (28). The Storm are incredibly adept at dictating everything on offense. Their sets and actions are fluid and crisp. Almost everyone on their roster can attack off the dribble and be a threat to pass or score the ball. If by chance you succeed at shutting down their initial option, they efficiently move the ball across the court until daylight is found. The aforementioned points in the paint advantage was where the Storm really punished Minnesota. The Lynx help defense was more than a step slow in affecting Seattle rollers and cutters. Everything is easier when your offense can get into the lane and the Storm lived there for the entire game.
Meanwhile Seattle showed Minnesota what championship defense looks like. Their pressure never let the Lynx get any sort of flow going. Reeve often talks about how great defense is about being “hard to play against.” This seems like a simple concept but is easier said than done. The Storm truly made Minnesota look uncomfortable out there and forced the Lynx into a season high 24 turnovers. Offense is about flow and finding matchups and actions that work in your favor. When you turn the ball over on 30% of your possessions, those goals are nearly impossible to achieve.
A performance like this is tough to swallow for a prideful Minnesota Lynx team. Despite the fact that they’ve been without their best player for over half of the season they believe they belong in the WNBA’s upper echelon. No matter how heavy of a title favorite Seattle may be, the disappointment of a blowout loss is always painful. With only three games remaining in the regular season this defeat should inspire Minnesota to do everything in their power to win-out. If they can secure the second or third playoff seed they’ll put themselves in a position to avoid this juggernaut Seattle team for as long as possible in the rapidly approaching WNBA postseason.
Minnesota was led by Damiris Dantas and Odyssey Sims. Dantas had a game-high 22 points on 4-7 from three as well as nine rebounds and two assists. Sims had 14 points, four rebounds and four assists and brought a lot of energy to the game.
The Lynx out rebounded the Storm 34-24.
Minnesota was hot again from three as they hit 12 long range shots. They’ve now hit at least 10 threes in a franchise record four straight games.
Mikiah Herbert-Harrigan had some nice stints in this game. The rookie hit two big threes and also continues to be impressive on the defensive end. It might take her awhile to put it all together, but she’s going to be an intriguing player in a few years.
The Lynx are back at it on Tuesday facing off against lottery-bound Washington. They’ll need to bounce back and return to form against the Mystics. Tip off is 7pm CT.
Watch: ESPN 2