Cheryl Reeve, the coach of the Lynx, has consistently emphasized that this season will be about development, especially with the retirement of Sylvia Fowles, the last remaining player from the Lynx’s title-winning teams.
However, after a remarkable win in Connecticut on Sunday and the WNBA’s rather unconventional first-round playoff schedule, the sixth-seeded Lynx have the opportunity to advance to the league quarterfinals with a victory over the third-seeded Connecticut on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Target Center. The game will be broadcast by ESPN.
Reeve commented, “The mindset all year was about getting better. We haven’t focused on results. And now we’re in a situation where Phee [Napheesa Collier], in her young career, took a huge step to be an MVP candidate for much of the season. Phee has put us in position to win her first playoff series.”
Yet, it was not just Collier who contributed to this achievement.
The stellar performances of Collier and Kayla McBride were the highlights of Sunday’s game. Collier achieved career playoff highs in both points (26) and rebounds (13). Meanwhile, McBride set career playoff highs in points (28), rebounds (eight), and three-pointers made (6-for-11).
They became the first pair of teammates in Lynx postseason history to each score 25 or more points in a game. McBride’s six threes tied Maya Moore for most in a Minnesota playoff game. Collier and McBride also became just the fifth pair of teammates to each score at least 25 points and secure eight rebounds in a game, a feat that had not been achieved since 2016.
The Lynx made history as the first team in the league to lose a game by at least 30 points and rebound for a win in the subsequent game in the same playoff series.
Now, the Lynx are set to take on a home game, giving Collier a chance to win her first playoff series.
Reeve expressed her excitement, stating, “That’s the next evolution. I’m thrilled with the team that we put ourselves in this position to have a chance to give Phee the opportunity to take the next step.”
This will not be an easy task, as the Sun are a playoff-experienced team, and the Lynx have two rookie players starting. Additionally, the Lynx were better on the road this season and suffered a considerable loss to Dallas.
The structure of the WNBA’s first-round series schedule gives the lower-seeded team a home game if they force a Game 3, which is a benefit for the Lynx.
Collier expressed her enthusiasm about playing in front of the packed and loud Target Center, saying, “We have such a great fan base in Minnesota. We know the place will be packed. It will be loud. We’re really excited. If we play like this again, we’ll be hard to beat. I can’t wait for the next game.”
The Lynx will face a highly motivated Sun team that has advanced out of the first round in six straight seasons, reaching the finals last year.
However, McBride believes that the loud Target Center will make the difference, noting, “They deserve it. Being able to get this on the road and knowing we’re coming back to play a big game? We know they’re going to come out, and we want to give it our best for them.”
Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.