The Minnesota Lynx entered this evening’s tip just 2.5 games behind the 3rd place Connecticut Sun team.
That deficit is now 3.5.
Although the Sun were smoked in the first ever WNBA Commissioner’s Cup finale last week, they were actually fresh off throttling the Dallas Wings in their first official game back from the Olympic break. Boy, did they ride that momentum to start this game. Connecticut were finally welcomed home to a raucous home crowd as they marched out to an early double-digit lead, shooting over 60% in the 1st quarter. MVP candidate (and nearly 3-point champion), Jonquel Jones, was dominating the paint early and often as she put Sylvia Fowles in early foul trouble. Her supporting cast was there to help open things up by peppered in open corner three pointers as well.
JJ WITH THE SPIN TO THE BUCKET. pic.twitter.com/A6oqQsaeKF— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) August 17, 2021
Despite the Sun would cooling off in the 2nd quarter, Minnesota’s worst enemy would eventually come knocking at their door. Ah, our old friend: Turnovers. Already being 3rd worst in the league by committing a whopping 14.8 TOs per game, the Lynx would begin fumbling the ball away when simply bringing the ball up the court (8 for the half, 17 for the game). Things would spiral out of control to the tune of a 18-point Sun lead as Minnesota would fail to generate quality possessions of the ones they didn’t turnover. A perfect summation of how the half would go would be when Kayla McBride, the league leader in FT% at 96.6%, would get fouled on a 3-pointer, but only convert on 1 of 3 shots. Brutal.
Lynx would trail 28-42 at the break.
Things still looked somewhat manageable due to some blown wide open looks from the home team, but surely Coach Cheryl Reeve couldn’t have been happy in the locker room. In fact, Jack Borman and I both discussed the idea of making this recap just an exposé on Coach Reeve’s non-verbal reactions to what was unfolding on the court.
As usual, this Minnesota squad would respond to their coach.
The Lynx would force Coach Kurt Miller to take an early timeout as his lead was sliced down to just 7 points. Just when it looked like it was gonna be promising, Miller’s Sun would respond with their own run and doing what they do best, locking down on the defensive end.
So much for the #Lynx 10-3 run to start the third quarter.— Mitchell Hansen (@M_Hansen13) August 18, 2021
The Sun have answered with a 10-3 run of their own, extending their lead back to 55-41.
In fact, they would re-stretch things back out to a 16-point lead heading into the final period and it would be all academic in the 4th, as the Lynx never truly threatened again. They looked equally parts out of gas after a brilliant 8-game win streak that began June 23, as they looked outmatched to a team that was just that much better than them tonight.
All that said, it feels somewhat poetic that the Lynx would end their worst stretch of basketball this season in a thriller against the Sun (Their first win), then go on end their best stretch of basketball in a blowout against the same team months later.
No worries though, as the Lynx will run this back in about 45 hours.
- I was impressed by Rachel Banham tonight. She had as much of a revenge game as you could have in a blowout. Not only did she bring some reliable shooting, albeit too late into the game, but she also flashed some smart team defense. There were a number of plays where she astutely rotated correctly from the weakside or dug in to wrestle out a few post entries from the Sun. With Crystal Dangerfield struggling mightily, there will likely be additional minutes for the Minnesota native to soak up. Her 8 points helped the Lynx get within 8 late in the game.
Rachel Banham has gone on a personal 6-0 run for the Lynx to pull them back within 11 with 6 minutes left.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) August 18, 2021
- Napheesa Collier and Damiris Dantas didn’t get any minutes in the 4th quarter. Coach Reeve mentioned in the post game that she just had to go with a different look since they were down almost 20 points. The physicality of the Connecticut front court was something that they clearly were not ready to face. Coach Reeve shared post game that one of their best players was a no-show, effectively calling Phee out for her 6 point, 1 rebound, 2 assist, and 2 turnover performance.
"...We had a lot of players that weren't present. Connecticut punched us in the mouth. Some of us never got up...One of our best players was a no-show." #CantTameUs— Dani Bar-Lavi (@dblfluidity) August 18, 2021
- Jonquel Jones is such a beast. She strolled to a 17/13/4 night with 3 steals and perhaps most impressively, made Sylvia Fowles look outmatched in the paint. There was a pretty comical moment late in the game where JJ had a wide open break where she attempt to slam one home, but she came up just short and the Lynx were able to use that advantage to get the game within 8. Although Alyssa Thomas isn’t due back until likely next season, I’m scared/intrigued at what JJ, AT, DB, and Brionna Jones looks like on the court together.
Reeve on whether the Lynx take the Jonquel Jones dunk attempt personally: "I don't give a shit. I don't give a shit." #CantTameUs— Dani Bar-Lavi (@dblfluidity) August 18, 2021
Sylvia Fowles on Sun holding Lynx below 30 rebounds (22 tonight): "It was a group effort. Everybody got in and crashed. Of course Jonquel Jones is a great rebounder, but they all really crowded inside." #CantTameUs— Dani Bar-Lavi (@dblfluidity) August 18, 2021
Both teams get Wednesday off to rest, watch film, and prepare for a rematch on Thursday at 6:00pm CT. Coach Reeve has a great track record of making adjustments so look forward to a spirited game 2.