May 18, 2021
Lynx show promise despite home opener loss
Looking past a rough start, there’s a lot to look forward to with this team
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There’s a case to be made that the Lynx were never fully in the game.
A Diana Taurasi hail-mary long three and extended game delay due to clock management issues led to a disappointing home opener loss for the Minnesota Lynx who fell, 77-75, to the Phoenix Mercury.
“(We) put (ourselves) in a situation to have to beg for the officiating to get it right and that’s never a good place to be in. And we didn’t take care of business before that and Phoenix won the game,” coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said after the game.
It’s easy to walk away from the Lynx home opener disappointed. They struggled to protect the paint, allowing the Mercury to score 46 points. The bench only produced 5 points, shooting 1-for-8 with one trip to the line. The Lynx also had an incredibly low shooting percentage of 27% in the first half. But a difficult start was expected for the home opener as they were still without Napheesa Collier and last minute starting lineup add, Kayla McBride, had not yet had any reps with her new team prior to the first game.
But there were hidden gems throughout the game that showed a lot of promise for this Lynx team.
For one, having Kayla McBride cleared less than an hour before tip off and added to the Lynx starting lineup kept the Lynx in the game. Not having reps with her new team prior to the first game didn’t slow McBride down, as she was the top scorer for the Lynx after the first half with 9 points. Her final game totals included 17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. This marked her first 15+ points and 5+ rebounds game since Aug. 11, 2019 vs. Connecticut.
“She carried us in the first half,” Reeve said.
Another good sign is Sylvia Fowles is back. It was fitting that Minnesota’s first bucket of the game was by Fowles, who shot just under 42% and played just over 30 minutes. Fowles finished the game with 11 points and exceeded her overall 2019 season averages with 11 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Fowles extends her WNBA record to 168 career double-doubles.
Aerial Powers is heating up. She had a rough start, closing out the first half with just 4 points and she admitted to reporters that she “was a little winded.” But things turned around for her in the second half. Powers finished the game as the Lynx’s top scorer with 18 points and recorded 6 rebounds and two blocks.
“Thank God I have the staff that I do getting me in and out,” Powers said. “And then the second half, I think I just caught a bit of a second wind and a lot more focus.”
Following Friday’s loss to the Mercury, Napheesa Collier returned to Minnesota after her overseas team, France’s BLMA, lost in the 2021 Coupe de France championship. Collier is required to pass six negative covid tests before rejoining the team. Having Collier back in the lineup soon will bring the Lynx roster to full strength.
The home opener was a rough game to kick off their season, but fans can and should keep expectations high for this Lynx team. Powers said it best when she told reporters, “I think we’re all salty about this game because we let it come down to the end. So expect us to go on a run.”