The Minnesota Lynx headed into this Sunday matinee with a chance to climb all the way up to the No. 5 seed with a win and an Atlanta Dream loss. Unfortunately, they could not get anything going against a complete game from the Indiana Fever, who dominated the paint. Minnesota ends the season 19-21 and secure the No. 6 seed in the postseason and a date with the runner up from last year’s playoffs, the Connecticut Sun.
This game started out very back and forth with Kayla McBride leading the way for Minnesota. She was red hot at the beginning and scored the first seven points for the Lynx. The Fever then started to build a lead behind tough finishes around the basket and a few And-1s that always suck the life out of the opposing team, and unfortunately the Lynx were on the receiving end of it. Napheesa Collier was able to get it going late in the first as she gets a few buckets to try and fight back against the Fever but it did not help the cause all too much as the Lynx ended the frame down by nine.
Sloppy turnovers from both teams kicked off the second quarter, but that still gave the edge to the Fever as they slightly increased their lead to 10. Diamond Miller caught a rhythm, and McBride poured in 13 first half points to help keep Minnesota in the game. But Indiana held serve for the remainder of the period behind eight points from Kelsey Mitchell and took a 56-44 lead into the locker room.
The Lynx decided to rightly emphasize getting Phee more involved to start the third quarter. She scored a couple easy buckets and stamped her mark on the game to start the second half. Even with this, Minnesota was still not able to make up the difference. The Lynx did start to crawl their way back and cut the lead down to eight with seven minutes left in the quarter. Some stout defense enabled Minnesota to get back in the game halfway through the third quarter and slowly minimize the lead behind an Aerial Powers appearance giving the Lynx some valuable minutes to spark the offense. Although she only had two points, she helped to being the Lynx back to tie the game at 63 heading into the final quarter.
that's her specialty. pic.twitter.com/aKDmyhSf7s— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) September 10, 2023
McBride drilled a 3-pointer in the first minute to give Minnesota a one-point lead, one of their only moments on top of the scoreboard. Unfortunately, the Lynx defense we saw throughout the third quarter slipped a bit as the Fever retook a five-point lead behind six straight points from superstar rookie Aliyah Boston, who was excellent all day long.
Minnesota kept trying to climb back into the game but some poor decision making and lack of shot-making in the half-court plagued the Lynx down the stretch. In line with how this game ended up being for the Lynx, a tipped pass ended up in Boston’s and gave the Fever a nine-point lead that essentially sealed the game with 1:25 to play. Indiana went on to win 87-72 to end their season on a high note before they enter the WNBA Draft Lottery this fall.
Let’s get into the takeaways.
Phee and K-Mac Getting Hot Heading Into the Playoffs
The two most consistent players all season for the Lynx have been Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride. This continued into the last game of the season as they combined for 47 points and continue to be the leaders for this team. After starting 0-6, everyone had written off this team and these two led the way for Minnesota to be able to come back and make the playoffs after missing out on it last year. These two are and will be pillars of the Lynx for years to come now that McBride has signed a two-year extension. Even with the spotty play and inconsistencies that came from this season, without these two playing how they did there is no chance Minnesota even sniffed the playoffs. This bled through in the final game and it is awesome to see them playing good basketball heading into the postseason.
Stout Third Quarter Gave the Lynx a Chance
Even with the bad first half, the Lynx gave themselves a chance with their impeccable defense in the third quarter. They allowed just seven points on 3/20 shooting (15%) and turned the Fever over four times, and were able to climb out of the hole they gave themselves. Minnesota’s gritty play has been their staple all year long and when they focus up and play team defense they are tough to score against. These flashes, while inconsistent, show a defensive ceiling that will need to be accessed if they hope to continue playing into late September. Defense wins championships and that will be required for the Lynx postseason push.
Defense Gets Obliterated in the Paint
The reason the Lynx lost this game is because they got destroyed in the paint. They were outscored 48-28 in the painted area while Aliyah Boston scored 19 points and shot 9/13 from the floor. When the Lynx were able to come back into the game it was because they were protecting the inside. Going into a playoff series against DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas, there needs to be an emphasis on this interior defense — otherwise, it will be a quick series and the Lynx won’t host a playoff game.
Overall, it was not the best way to put a bow on the end of the regular season but the Lynx have bigger things to worry about with the matchup against the Sun.
see you in the Playoffs. pic.twitter.com/GIdVfQTVjl— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) September 10, 2023
The Lynx secure the sixth seed and a matchup with the Connecticut Sun and will play on Wednesday, 9/13 at 7 PM on ESPN2 in the first round of the playoffs.
The schedule for the series between the #3 Connecticut Sun and #6 Minnesota Lynx:— Mitchell Hansen (@M_Hansen13) September 10, 2023
- Game 1 (Sept. 13): Minnesota at Connecticut, 8 p.m. ET
- Game 2 (Sept. 17): Minnesota at Connecticut, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Game 3 (Sept. 20): Connecticut at Minnesota, TBD*