After getting throttled by the Chicago Sky just 48 hours earlier, the Minnesota Lynx embarked on a 3-game road trip. Their first stop: Dallas for a 2-game series. Much like their NBA counterpart, the Dallas Wings have been in the headlines this week for less than stellar news.
Coach Vickie Johnson would later try to contextualize her comments saying that both she and budding star guard Allisha Gray were on the same page. Couple that the Wings’ public campaign to support the Arlington Police Foundation, it hasn’t been a great month off the court for Dallas sports.
The whole league fights for social justice. It’s #Pride Month. And this is what y’all do @DallasWings? I see y’all deleted the tweet but we all saw it. Donate that money to local schools or shelters. This is not a good look, at all. #WNBA pic.twitter.com/EKlo82UNru— Women’s Hoopz (@WomensHoopz) June 8, 2021
Meanwhile, Coach Cheryl Reeve was surely fired up during her team’s practice yesterday. With just 9 health bodies active tonight, a sense of urgency returned as the Lynx marched out to a quick 11-2 lead, at one point growing the early advantage up to as much as 14. However both teams would exchange a number of early runs (a theme for the rest of the game) that kept this game engaging and fun.
11-2 Lynx run early in 1st.
10-2 Wings run to answer.
12-3 Lynx run in the 2nd.
Minnesota would build their lead by primarily attacking the paint early and often. Even the 1st overall pick, Charli Collier, was powerless to slow down the onslaught. My (unofficial) count was a 44-24 advantage for points in the paint. I’ll have to credit the pace that the Lynx played with all night as they got up and down the court in a hurry, exploiting the young Wings team.
Dallas’ franchise player, Arike Ogunbowale, was somehow held to 0 points on 0/3 shooting in the first half. Right on cue, she would nearly turn the game upside down by sparking a 13-0 run to open the 2nd half, helping the Wings establish a quick 2-point lead. Both teams would get their offensive juices flowing late in the 3rd, turning up their scoring outputs.
If the game was going to turn into a shootout, give me Kayla “McBuckets” McBride on my team any day.
McBuckets really turned it on late, pouring in 7 points in a 4:28 span to close the 3rd to get the Lynx a 5-point lead heading into the final period. She would finish with a game-high 22 points on just 10 shots (!). She mentioned post game that this has been the most connected she’s felt with her teammates all season and how it was certainly big for her in terms of breaking out of a recent slump.
KMac on rhythm: "Before the game, coach came up to me and was like don't be so tense. Relax, play your game. After the last 3 games, I was kinda in my head. I wanna be great for the team... Just had to give my mind a break. Today was the most connected I felt w/ my teammates."— YoLeo (@Y0Leo) June 18, 2021
Ready for another run?
It would be Minnesota’s game to lose starting the final period and lose the game they would not. After dominating the paint all game, the Lynx would get loose for a 10-0 run sparked by a pair of Rachel Banham and Damiris Dantas triples. Ogunbowale and Dallas would do their best to try and answer, but the hole would be too big for them to climb out of. In fact, they would never get within single digits the entire quarter again.
Just like that, the Minnesota Lynx leapfrog back into the playoff picture again! It’s still early-ish in the season, but they’re still just sitting 1 game away from .500 despite a very difficult schedule and a flurry of crippling injuries. This W for Coach Reeve would mark her 250th, making her the first WNBA coach to hit that mark with just one franchise (250-123). Congratulations to our fearless leader!
- The Lynx are now 123-4 when holding opponent 40% shooting or less. Today they outshot the Wings 48.5% to 34.7%. The importance of honing the defense will/should remain the top priority!
- Despite playing with 9 active players tonight, Coach Reeve really only rolled out 8.5 players. Newly signed Cierra Burdick was the human victory cigar (1 min) while the typically reliable Bridget Carleton only played 13 minutes. Something to monitor moving forward.
Tonight's @MayoClinic Injury Report:— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) June 17, 2021
Natalie Achonwa ( R. MCL Sprain), Aerial Powers ( R. UCL Tear), Jessica Shepard ( R. Mild Adductor Strain), and Rennia Davis (L. Foot Stress Fracture) are OUT at Dallas. pic.twitter.com/zm9X4ZyBox
- Although Kayla McBride deserves the game ball tonight, credit to Napheesa Collier (19/8/4/2) and Sylvia Fowles (14/12/2/3/1) for holding down the paint on both ends. That pairing is certainly one of the strongest, if not the strongest, frontcourt duos in the W.
- Most Improved Player candidate/frontrunner, Marina Mabrey, was held scoreless on 0-8 shooting. Impressive feat which has to be credited to the defensive game plan that Assistant Coach/HOFer Katie Smith put together.
Coach Reeve on defensive improvements: "Katie Smith got the game plan in and I felt we were pretty locked in. They have some players who are accustomed to making more shots... they're really hard to play against. Their persistence in the paint and getting calls was a challenge."— YoLeo (@Y0Leo) June 18, 2021
The Lynx will rematch the Dallas Wings on Saturday, June 19 at 7:00pm CT. Same game, hopefully same result!