The Lynx fell to the Sparks on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles and will go on the road for the first game of the 2019 playoffs. That game will take place on Wednesday in Seattle.
The Lynx certainly fought against the Sparks but couldn’t get their typically-potent offense clicking. They shot just 37.5 percent from the field and only Napheesa Collier had more than 15 points. The defense wasn’t much better—though Minnesota turned Los Angeles over 14 times they allowed the Sparks to shoot 50.7 percent from the field.
Collier was the Lynx’s best player on Sunday, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks. She shot 63.6 percent from the field. Sunday’s game was a nice final entry into her campaign for WNBA Rookie of the Year. Though her competition Arike Ogunbowale finished with 25 points in the Wings’ loss to the Storm, Ogunbowale shot just 36.8 percent from the floor. If you need a distillation of the arguments for the two rookies, Sunday was a pretty clear one.
To move on in the WNBA playoffs the Lynx will now have to win a game in Seattle. This isn’t the outcome the Lynx wanted and not the manner they had hoped to be entering the playoffs, but it would be foolish to count them out. They are still a dangerous team on both side of the ball—though they lost on Sunday, remember that they are still 5-1 in their last six games.
The Lynx will have a few days to rest and prepare before flying to Seattle. They will need to clean up their defense a bit, particularly to scheme against Natasha Howard, and lock in their plan for rebounding the ball in Seattle. Minnesota outrebounded the Sparks tonight 38-32 and they’ll need to do that again.
At the end of the day, Sunday’s loss was a result of shots not falling. The Sparks played good defense, but the Lynx also forced too many looks. There may have been some nerves for a team that hasn’t played in any do-or-die scenarios together. In many ways Sunday’s contest might end up being good practice for the Lynx. Now they need to internalize the lessons and come out ready to fight for their lives on Wednesday.