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Sky 92, Lynx 87: Chicago’s 3-Point Shooting Punches Their Postseason Ticket

The Sky’s hot shooting proved to be too much for Minnesota as they drop 19-20 with one game left in the regular season

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

The day started with some great news for Minnesota Lynx fans as Kayla McBride signed a two-year contract extension keeping the sharpshooter with Minnesota through 2025. The game was not nearly as sweet as the news, however. The Lynx dropped the road game by five.

Game 39 proved to be a playoff atmosphere as both the Lynx and the Sky had a lot to play for. The Lynx were playing for a chance at the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, while the Sky were battling for their own spot in the postseason. Minnesota was down two players in the form of starting center Jess Shepherd and starting point guard Lindsay Allen, which never helps when you are facing a team that wanted to win as badly as Chicago did. The Wintrust Arena crowd was rocking and all players were leaving everything on the floor as they jockeyed for position in the postseason.

It was a win-and-you’re-in game for the Sky as they owned the tiebreaker for the playoffs over the Los Angeles Sparks and they just needed one win to punch their ticket to the postseason. The game started even and efficient for the Lynx as they took a balanced approach through the first quarter. Diamond Miller scored with ease and Minnesota was sharing the basketball to take a three-point lead by the end of the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, Napheesa Collier continued to dominate with her inside game as she always does and filled up the basket — continuing her phenomenal play against Chicago this season. However, the Sky were able to fight back and take their first lead of the game during the second quarter. With a lack of bench help during their first stint of the game and some sloppy, turnover filled basketball on the Minnesota side the Sky were able to take the reigns and all of the momentum in this one. Collier was the one to keep them in the game however with 17 of the 39 first half points. This all ended in a five-point Chicago lead at halftime.

Coming out of the break, Chicago was ready to punch first and the Lynx continued their lackadaisical play, which let the Sky increase their lead to 11 just three minutes into the second half. Despite some bad turnovers, Collier, Miller and McBride kept Minnesota in the game by scoring a combined 21 points in the third quarter alone. This all came to a head when Phee bodied her defender and powered her way to an and-1 to cut the lead back down to two late in the quarter. They had a few chances to tie the game heading into the fourth but more turnovers prevented them from tying the game or taking the lead. The Sky held a four point lead heading into the final frame.

The Lynx held their own to start the fourth quarter and continued with what was working for them on offense for the whole game — slip screens and two-woman action. This started to fade away as some bad shots and turnovers lead to open threes at the other end - and the Sky were not missing. Any time the Lynx tried to fight back in this one, they killed their own momentum and were left with the taste of defeat.

With only one game left in the regular season, let’s get into some takeaways...

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

Diamond Miller Nearly Perfect

Miller shined bright in this one and turned in one of her most efficient games of the season with 24 points 10/11 shooting. She missed just one 3-pointer all game and was a great complementary piece to Collier as they led the offense with a combined 52 points. Miller has shown flashes of her sky-high potential all season, and everything she brings to the table came together in one neat package during this game against Chicago. What I enjoyed most about watching her performance was that she did so many little things. She hustled constantly and made plays that may not show up in the stat sheet, but that got her and her teammates some extra looks at the rim. If she can build off this performance, it would be huge for the team’s postseason prospects.

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

Dorka With Another Stat Sheet Stuffer

Last week, Dorka Juhász nearly recorded a triple-double as she scored 10 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out eight assists in the win over the Phoenix Mercury. In this game, she scored eight points to go along with 10 rebounds and five assists. Juhász is proving to be one of the best players from this draft class and an absolute steal for Minnesota. She works hard and does everything that a coach would want her to do. She is clearly the best rebounder on the team and does an excellent job of positioning her body in the right place to grab rebounds, and she is a lethal playmaker on the offensive end of the floor. If her shot can become more consistent, and her confidence in it grows, then the Lynx will have a wonderful player for years to come.

Killing Momentum

This game was filled with losing steam. Every time it seemed like the Lynx had righted the ship something went wrong. Whether it be an ill-advised shot, a turnover or allowing a three on the defensive end they continuously killed their own momentum. While I commend their ability to fight through adversity (as they have all season) it proved to be too much to overcome for Minnesota as they drop to one game below .500 on the year.

Up Next

The Lynx will take on the Indiana Fever this Sunday in a matinee game at 12 PM on Bally Sports North Extra. While they have solidified their postseason berth, they need to win on Sunday to have a shot at the No. 5 seed and to play the Dallas Wings in the playoffs. Because they won the season series against the Mystics the lowest they can fall is #6 but they need to win and an Atlanta Dream loss to get to the No. 5 seed, otherwise they’ll have a date with the Connecticut Sun in the first round.

Game Highlights