Sylvia Fowles is starting to heat up.
Fowles hasn’t always got the looks she needs this season, but lately that’s been changing. The Lynx have made finding Fowles in good spots a point of emphasis and Fowles has responded, putting the Lynx on her back right away in each of their last two games.
All season, the Lynx have been caught in a sort of Catch-22. Fowles is their best player. She’s also their most efficient player by a mile, but they were having a hard time getting her touches because the so many of the turnovers that plagued the team early in the season came from teams cutting off lobs thrown inside. As a result, Fowles wasn’t getting good looks in the paint, and her production had seen a bit of a drop off.
It has been very interesting to see the ways the Lynx have been getting Fowles the ball. The soft lobs from a player standing and looking for Fowles from the top of the key are all but gone. Instead the Lynx are moving the ball around the perimeter and looking for different angles to get the ball inside. If the passes aren’t there, they try to get a drive going to pull Fowles’ defenders off her a bit, or they call Fowles up to run pick and roll to create more space.
Fowles has a height advantage over most players in the league and the Lynx are exploiting that. It’s up to her teammates to trust Fowles to come down with lobs that might be too high for other players. It’s better to occasionally throw a lob too high than to have passes constantly picked off.
It has also been important for the Lynx that Fowles not force shots. While in the team’s last two games she has been dominant in the first half, teams have adjusted to her in the second halves of games. That’s led to a drop off in Fowles’ individual numbers but it has also led to a lot of open space for her teammates.
“You get 14 in the first half, they’re furious, so they’re going to ensure that anybody shoots except Syl,” said head coach Cheryl Reeve. “So that’s what happens, and obviously it gets more difficult. But what I like about that is we can use it against a team. When they’re spending that much energy to take away one player, we have some really good players around her. Even though she’s not getting the touches, it does have an effect on our offense.”
The important thing is that Fowles is doing the right thing when she feels pressure coming—passing the ball and setting up her teammates. Sometimes she gets it right back with the defense out of position, but her decision-making has been excellent. Don’t be fooled into thinking that because Fowles’ scoring has dropped off in the second halves of games that she is no longer effective.
The Lynx’s roster has gelled nicely the last few weeks and Fowles is at the literal and figurative center of much of that progress. It’s an exciting time to be a Lynx fan.
Vote for Fowles to represent the Lynx at the All-Star Game!