The Minnesota Lynx continued their road trip with a Sunday stop in Sin City to take on A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces on the second night of a home-and-home back-to-back for Becky Hammon’s crew.
Cheryl Reeve’s squad trailed basically the entire way through and, while showing flashes of upside, simply could not keep up with an absolutely loaded Aces squad. The Lynx only shot 37% from the field and never were able to get their footing against the favorites to win the 2023 WNBA title. Playing against elite teams are great tests to show how you match up against the best of the best - and the weaknesses that must be addressed.
Let’s look at some takeaways from the game.
Diamond Miller Heating Up
Diamond Miller has weathered a cold shooting start to the season while showing flashes of her ability to take over games and put the ball in the basket both on the drive and in transition. None of those flashes have been brighter than her third quarter on Sunday night, in which she scored 11 points in the frame. Miller came alive and used her speed and athleticism to get right to the rim and finish. This is a huge development for the Lynx as she has the ability to take over games with scoring stretches like these. If she can become more consistent, it will prove to be crucial help that lessens the scoring burden that has been placed on Napheesa Collier and Tiffany Mitchell.
Watching Miller become more aggressive and find ways to get to the rim will be crucial in her development as a player. If she can get to the painted area she has the ability to finish through contact and also draw a lot of fouls as a result. She can get some easy extra points by just drawing those calls with strong takes to the basket. This development will just take some time.
Jess Shepard’s Playmaking Continues to Shine
Lynx starting center Jess Shepard also came to play today as she tallied seven assists (and just one turnover) to go along with 15 rebounds. Although she only scored four points, the trusted offensive hub made several great passes to set her teammates up with easy shots. Mitchell also had a needed scoring night of 16 points with a good amount of them created as a result of running the offense through Shepard. If Minnesota is going to stick with this five-out system, playing front-court players the team can run the half-court offense through makes the Lynx extremely difficult to guard and only serves to benefit everyone on the team.
As you can see from this clip, Shepard draws the double team and proceeds to deliver the perfect pass to a cutting Miller for an and-1. This kind of passing is what makes her such a valuable asset to this roster and makes everyone excited to play with her. It was very fun to watch Shepard fire dimes all around the floor despite the loss.
The Lynx have had a rough start to the season but have shown flashes of what they are capable of on the offensive and defensive end. The biggest thing that needs to be focused on is getting consistent offense from multiple players. The narrative around this team to begin the season has been marred with inconsistency especially on the offensive end. Rachel Banham was 4/7 from downtown tonight, which is encouraging, and Minnesota should get some more help when trusted two-way veteran Kayla McBride returns to the lineup. But even with a more impactful Banham and McBride’s imminent return, getting consistent scoring from the starting lineup and the bench is what is needed to break this tough stretch of games and get the momentum going back in the right direction.
Playing the Aces is never an easy game but I think that it teaches a lot to this young Lynx team. Seeing Miller perform against the best of the best was extremely fun and there was enough positives to take from this game to the next one.
The Lynx are back in action on Tuesday in Dallas against the Wings. They will look to break their losing streak and get in the win column for the first time this season. You can watch the 7 PM tip on Bally Sports North or ESPN3.