You already knew that the Minnesota Lynx were off to a rough start in 2022, but exactly how bad is it, exactly?
At 0-3 on the season, Minnesota is off to a league-worst start under Cheryl Reeve. Although every season hasn’t always started with a ton of success, we do forget just how consistently solid the Lynx have been since the start of the decade. But back in 2006, Minnesota started off the season 0-3 before falling further with a 10-21 finish to the year.
While I wouldn’t go as far as those depths for this team, Minnesota’s remaining schedule is clearly more difficult now than it was then — both over the first three games and after that point. So though this team is better and likely won’t finish with something on par with 10-21, a disappointing season is still very much a thing that could happen based on what’s ahead.
Of course, there’s plenty of time to still turn things around. Minnesota didn’t look terrible against Indiana on Tuesday, even if the Lynx did falter in the second quarter. And they’ve already notched some impressive performances from Sylvia Fowles and Jessica Shepard this year. Having multiple games against some of the lesser teams this year will help things, too. And yes, it’s worth mentioning that this has been one of the tougher early-season schedules Minnesota has ever faced.
The Lynx will start looking to correct things on Saturday against Chicago. But first, here are some takeaways from the season’s start.
The definition of insanity
The definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.
It’s become a trend that is impossible to ignore anymore. Minnesota is awful at scoring the basketball consistently. We saw it against Seattle, Washington, and now Indiana. The Lynx continue to give opponents an opportunity to win the game with random iso-ball performances and questionable decision-making. It’s all well and good if Minnesota can move the ball and find open shots, but it’ll all be for nothing if opponents routinely take advantage of poor Lynx playmaking abilities throughout the season.
“We do good things, then we give it back,” Reeve said postgame after a 82-76 loss to Indiana. “We don’t have the ability right now to stunt the run and grab it back. The number of times we have a play call written up and it’s executed wrong.”
Once was a co-occurrence. Now, it’s a trend that needs to stop.
Fowles’ all-around machine still runs
Sylvia Fowles continues to carry the offensive load and her all-around performance for Minnesota remains mostly unfettered (she’s scored 55 points in three games, to be precise).
But, were we ever really worried about Sylvia Fowles? Even as she’s at the top of the scouting report and gets extra defensive attention in the form of double teams, she still scores the ball. She got off to a slow start against Seattle, but found a way to heat up toward the end of the first game, going into bully ball mode and making highlight-reel plays.
She shot 8-of-14 from the field in the first game, while she was able to score inside after her early mid-range jumpers.
In the third game, Indiana tried to mitigate Fowles’ offense, hard-hedging screens and doubling, forcing her to pass the ball. Still, she made contested shots from both mid-range and close, including this spin-layup.
THE FEED.— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) May 11, 2022
*chef's kiss* pic.twitter.com/Q0TjIMB3o5
Fowles scored 26 of Minnesota’s 76 points. No other Minnesota player reached 15.
Defense is coming together slowly but surely
One sign of positivity for fans of the Lynx was their aggression on the defensive end of the floor. Against a high-powered team in Washington, the Lynx were overwhelming the Mystics in the second half. Minnesota played with passion and aggression, talking with one and other, switching assignments at the proper time and forcing turnovers with their swarming defense.
This is huge for fans of the Lynx because they are traditionally known for their hard-nosed mentality on defense, but early in games, there seemed to be disfunction on the defensive end of the ball. In the second half against Washington, the Lynx put as good of a stop as you can to the Washington offense, holding them to 10-of-29 from the field and 2-of-8 from beyond the arc. Keeping a top team like Washington, who is known for their camaraderie as a team and efficient scoring, to such an abysmal second half is something for the rest of the WNBA to take note of.
In the third game, Indiana certainly ruffled the feathers of the Lynx’s defensive game plan, making six 3-point baskets in the second quarter. However, every time the Lynx had their backs against the wall they kept fighting and played with passion that can only be found from inside. Eventually, their fighting spirit got outmatched by some well-timed defense from the Fever and Minnesota couldn’t respond to the defensive firestorm. Even after a strong effort, they still lost the game.
The Lynx’s play was enough to prove to Minnesota fans, that with time and repetition, this defense has the opportunity to turn around their season and shut down teams when necessary.