The Minnesota Lynx made the trip to A to take on the Atlanta Dream in a battle for postseason positioning. Minnesota came out sluggish in the first game following the WNBA All-Star Break before fighting their way back into the game during the third quarter. This game was a roller coaster ride for the squad and, while the fight was there, they just ran out of gas at the end and could not complete the comeback.
After trailing by 17 at the break the Lynx woke up in the third quarter, outscoring the Dream 22-11 in the frame. They kept it close into the final frame thanks to a mammoth performance by Napheesa Collier, but Atlanta was able to stave off the barrage and close out the game.
In a matchup that was filled with high highs and low lows for individuals as well as the team, let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways that we can see from this performance - even if it did not go the Lynx’s way.
Napheesa Collier is STILL a Superstar
This isn’t a surprise to anyone if you have been following the Lynx even remotely closely this season. Phee turned in yet another incredible performance in which she was almost able to will the team to victory; it could be argued this was the best of her entire season to this point. The lone Lynx All-Star scored a career-high 35 points to go along with nine rebounds and three assists. She was also getting it done on the defensive side of the floor turning in three blocks to pair with her electric offense. Collier was a problem on the court and the Dream had no answer for her. She nearly single-handedly pulled the Lynx to victory but All-Star guard Rhyne Howard and Co. were too much for Minnesota’s MVP candidate.
PHEE WITH A NEW CAREER-HIGH 35 POINTS— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) July 19, 2023
If you are frustrated with Tuesday night’s outcome, just remember that Minnesota has a 26-year-old star who still has not reached her full potential. Collier is phenomenal and we should feel honored to get the opportunity to watch her on a nightly basis.
Inconsistent Offense From the Rest of the Team
This aspect has unfortunately become a pattern for the Lynx this season and when they tend to struggle it is because they are not able to get enough offensive help to Napheesa Collier in order to take on some of the load. Diamond Miller and Kayla McBride shot a combined 7/21 from the field, including 2/11 from beyond the arc. Both of them have the capability to be great second options on this team but need to find that consistency on the offensive end if the Lynx are going to continue making a push for the playoffs. Both of them and the rest of the team definitely had their moments and the UConn product did not do it completely by herself but there definitely needs to be help with the scoring side of things.
Rachel Banham was also ruled out well before the game with an injury. She injects this consistency as a scorer and shooter, and has been key role player for the team this season. Because of her absence, there is going to need to be others that step up and take on the hole that she leaves off of the bench.
One thing of note when it comes to the Minnesota #Lynx players injured right now:— Mitchell Hansen (@M_Hansen13) July 18, 2023
Rachel Banham, who is dealing with a sprained right thumb and is NWT in Atlanta tonight, is expected to be sidelined 3-4 weeks.#WNBA https://t.co/nJPEj7xc0d
Minnesota has shown flashes of great, playoff basketball that has mixed with play that looks like a young, immature team for the entire season. The way that the season has been going was encapsulated with how tonight’s matchup went - energy driven winning basketball and also some uninspired play. Finding that consistency will be key in the coming weeks if the Lynx want to be playing in the postseason this year. It is not going to be easy especially without Banham for the foreseeable future, but if they are able to give Collier offensive help and play the defense they had in the second half tonight for four quarters, there is still hope that this team can make a run and keep pace with the other playoff hopefuls.
Even with this negativity, it is important to see the silver lining, and that lining is superstar Napheesa Collier.
the FIRST Lynx player to have multiple games of 30+ PTS, 5+ REB, and 3+ BLK in the same season. pic.twitter.com/k1VZkKR69d— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) July 19, 2023
The Lynx will host the Los Angeles Sparks on Thursday night at 7 PM at Target Center, looking to complete the season sweep of their biggest rival. Fans can watch the contest on Bally Sports North and Amazon Prime Video.