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Lynx 88, Sky 79: Veteran Trio Leads Minnesota to Wire-to-Wire Win

Behind another MVPhee performance the Lynx start a crucial stretch off with a clutch victory

Minnesota Lynx v Chicago Sky Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx never trailed in last night’s 88-79 victory over the Chicago Sky.

That tends to help when trying to get into the win column. While the Sky kept it interesting by going on short runs to chip into the lead throughout the matchup, the Lynx grappled back firm control of the lead throughout the game. With great performances from a handful of players and the much-anticipated return of Rachel Banham from a right thumb fracture, the Lynx found a way to win on the road without rookie center Dorka Juhász in the lineup.

Minnesota got started with few buckets from the likes of Diamond Miller and Kayla McBride, before Napheesa Collier joined the party later in the opening quarter. They set the tone with some tough buckets inside, while Collier got to the free throw line with ease. After the game was tied at 18 heading into the final few minutes of the quarter, the Lynx put the pedal to the floor and closed the frame on a 10-3 run that gave them a seven-point lead heading into the second quarter.

With Collier forced to the bench in foul trouble, an unlikely hero rose to the occasion off the bench to propel the Lynx offense to hold their ground in the second quarter and keep their lead of 7 points heading into halftime. Nina Milić provided eight key points, including a 3-pointer to continue the hot stretch for the Serbian national.

Once the Lynx superstar returned out of the break, the game turned into the MVPhee show. Talking about how dominant her play was makes me feel like a broken record at this point. She simply took over on all three levels and proceeded to score 11 points in the quarter including a stretch where she scored seven points in one minute and nine straight for Minnesota. Chicago had no answer for the rising MVP candidate, who took the Sky defense to school on what felt like every possession.

The home stretch got a little bit scary for the Lynx as a 10-point lead with two and a half minutes left got down to four at one point. But, they were able to hold the Sky off with some stout defense down the stretch. Anytime the Lynx needed a clutch bucket throughout the quarter, McBride was there to make a jumper and suck the life out of a Sky crowd that wanted to will their squad to a comeback victory.

Minnesota started off a long stretch of games against teams under .500 which could either sink their playoff hopes or vault them into contention for a higher seed. Beating Chicago could be huge in the overall playoff picture as they have a very similar record which could result in a tiebreaker if it were to get to that point. The Lynx overcame 11 3-pointers from the Sky which is no easy task.

Let’s get into some takeaways.

Minnesota Lynx v Chicago Sky Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Lynx Big Three

Minnesota decided to take a three-headed approach to tonight’s game with Collier, Shepard and McBride taking turns agitating the Sky and sealing off the big victory. Collier scored 29 points on 18 shots to go along with nine rebounds, an impressive mark considering the Lynx star played just 27 minutes because of foul trouble. Shepard scored 17 points with seven rebounds and five assists (the quintessential Jess stat line). K-Mac scored 13 points to go along with a season-high seven assists and a couple clutch fourth quarter buckets. Shepard and Collier also combined to go 17/20 from the free throw line in a game where the Lynx were +21 in free throws attempted.

Diamond Miller Doing the Small Things

Miller scored the Lynx’s first five points and then the Sky held her scoreless for the rest of the game. While that does not sound notable, the No. 2 overall pick set a new a career-high with 11 rebounds. When young players who can score the basketball like Diamond can have off games like tonight, many are taken completely out of the game. Not Diamond Miller. The rookie found a way to put aside her shooting struggles to impact winning.

Nina Milić’s Surprising Spark

Great teams have a plethora of role players that can provide scoring off the bench. Tonight the Lynx were a great team in this regard. Milic, who has had an up and down year, was great tonight and provided a spark in a game where the Lynx were missing a key front-court player in Juhász. She carried the team through the second quarter and helped Minnesota to maintain the lead through the non-Collier minutes as she was in foul trouble throughout the game.

The Minnesota Lynx started their stretch of games against below .500 teams on the right foot. They need to keep that momentum going as their next five games are against teams that are right around them in the hunt for a playoff spot. It’s make or break time as we start to gear up for the finish line. We will see what the Lynx are made of in this upcoming stretch.

Next Up

The Lynx will take on the last place Indiana Fever on Thursday at 6 PM CT. You can watch the game on Bally Sports North and Amazon Prime Video.

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