After a chippy and emotionally charged game on Tuesday, everyone on both teams knew this game — the second of a back-to-back against the Dallas Wings — was going to be a dog fight. Luckily for the Minnesota Lynx, their two biggest offensive threats, Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride, came to play. They combined for 45 points and had seven rebounds apiece as they lead the charge against Dallas in the eventual win, closing the gap in the standings down to one game between the two teams. This game was extra special for McBride as she hit her 500th career three pointer, furthering her stamp on the Lynx franchise and the WNBA as a whole.
The game started close and stayed that way through the entirety of the first half. Even with Satou Sabally (ankle) not playing, the game was going to be physical and gritty throughout. After the matchup on Tuesday, (which, if you have not familiarized yourself with, you should check out our Jack Borman’s recap on the matchup) this game was going to be intense. There were a lot of emotions and some serious physicality on Tuesday, and this game was no different. After the Lynx had some rebounding and foul issues that allowed the Wings to stay close in the game (50-48 at halftime) they needed to come out firing in the second half.
Arike struggled to score and Howard missed the final 5 minutes of 2Q with foul trouble, yet the Lynx allowed 48 points and are up just two at HT.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) August 25, 2023
Allowing 19 free throws in a half just cannot happen, nor can allowing 7 OREB for 10 SC pts.
Lot to clean up in the 2H https://t.co/VtZIJ0PkgG
Coming out firing is what they did. The Lynx started the second half on fire — the intensity on the defensive end was kicked into high gear and they forced the Wings into bad shots, no offensive rebounds and forced a few turnovers to take the reigns in this battle.
Lynx are doing a hell of a job defensively to open the 2H.— Jack Borman (@jrborman13) August 25, 2023
12-0 Minnesota run has blown it open to 62-48 Lynx with 7:08 to play in the 3Q.
Lynx have forced two TOs (leading to four points), are 5/7 from the floor in 2H and haven't given up an OREB.
Down the stretch, the Lynx fought hard to keep their lead and ice the Wings. After the run in the third quarter, outscoring Dallas by nine in the frame, they took an 11-point lead into the final stretch. As it seemed like the Wings were attempting to get back into game, cutting it down to a single point on multiple occasions, K-Mac snuffed their hopes and dreams out with a dagger three — and some choice words to go along with it.
All in all, a road win is never easy especially at this point in the season and the Lynx were able to pull it out despite a 23-point, 18-rebound performance by Teaira McCowan. She was a force down low but every time Minnesota took a hit they punched right back. It was a phenomenal effort that ended in a huge victory that gives the Lynx a possibility to take over Dallas — and the No. 4 seed — in the standings at some point very soon.
With that being said, let’s look at a few takeaways.
Phee and K-Mac Carry the Offensive Load
No surprises here. Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride were working the Wings defense as they combined for half of the Lynx points. Anytime Minnesota needed a bucket they turned to one of these two. I have been preaching all season that when the Lynx lose, one of the big reasons for it is that Phee does not have enough help on offense; K-Mac must have taken that personally. The Lynx usually go as far as these two will take them. When McBride and Collier are playing at this level, Minnesota is a very tough team to beat. Both players were electric and guided Minnesota to grit out a tough matchup against a physical team.
I asked Cheryl Reeve about the duo of Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride:— Mitchell Hansen (@M_Hansen13) August 25, 2023
"It really showed in 2022 when we didn't have Phee. When Phee came back, McBride was completely different. It was like her girl was back. There a huge amount of trust between them. They need each other."
Stingy Defense Against Arike Ogunbowale
While the Wings did not have the luxury of having Satou Sabally on the floor, the Lynx did a great job of zeroing in on Ogunbowale and not allowing her to get going. She scored 10 points but shot 4/15 from the field including 1/7 from downtown. Comparatively, on Tuesday, she scored 20 points and hit some crazy shots down the stretch that helped keep the Wings in the game. Minnesota had Ogunbowale circled on the scouting report tonight and they did a great job shutting her down, led by McBride, who has been excellent in slowing down opposing perimeter stars all season long.
Third Quarter Run Ultimately Seals the Game
In this game for me it all came down to the 12-0 run to start the third quarter. That allowed the Lynx to take a commanding 16-point lead at one point, which would be too much for Dallas to overcome down the stretch. This was all spurred by the defensive energy and the most important stretch of the matchup. This fueled their energy for the rest of the game and kept them afloat even as the Wings fought back. After this point, all you have to do is match what the other team is doing — and Minnesota had enough shot makers tonight to make that happen.
The Lynx got two huge wins this week and head into the final six games of the season right in the playoff mix. They have a mixed bag the rest of the way with three home games and three road games but also a lot of winnable matchups. Their next game against the New York Liberty is their last game against a team with a winning record. Heading into the postseason on a high note is huge for potential hopes of making a run this year. If they can keep this up, they could realistically nab the No. 4 seed in the playoffs which would mean home-court advantage for the first round of the WNBA Playoffs. I know that if I were a team heading into the postseason, I would not want to come to the Target Center. Let’s hope this hot streak keeps up and we can see more than a few games here in Minnesota in the coming weeks.
The Lynx take on the New York Liberty back home at the Target Center on Saturday, August 26th at 7pm on WNBA league pass. Every game in this final stretch is an important one so tune in or pop out to cheer on the squad! Minnesota does get a couple of days off after this too so hopefully they come out with the same energy and grit as tonight.