Lynx vs. Aces, 7:00 p.m.
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The Lynx face the Aces on Friday night in what will be a tough but winnable matchup.
The 9-12 Aces are not to be overlooked. While Las Vegas started off their season losing seven of their first eight games, they’re 8-5 since then, and are in the midst of a three-game winning streak including an impressive victory over the Connecticut Sun last Saturday.
The Aces are led by rookie sensation A’ja Wilson. Wilson is averaging 20.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game. She’s not on her way to being a star in the WNBA—she’s already there. Her level of talent is pretty unprecedented for a rookie, and she’ll be making her mark on the league for years to come.
Wilson will be a tough assignment for whoever draws her on defense. With Rebekkah Brunson still nursing a thigh injury, Endy Miyem will likely have to step up again like she did against the Fever. New Lynx addition Erlana Larkins may also see the floor. The Lynx’s offense might be better served going small and playing Moore at the four, but guarding Wilson on the defensive end is a tough assignment for Moore.
The Aces backcourt presents a fair share of difficulty as well. Shooting guard Kayla McBride is having a career year, averaging 18.9 points and shooting 44.8-percent from three. The inside-out punch of McBride and Wilson has helped the Aces become the second-best offensive team in the league in their last five games.
But the Lynx are certainly not going to let the Aces offense run all over them. The Lynx love to slow things down, limit opponent possessions, and force bad shots. That formula has been working: the Lynx are one of the best if not the best defensive team in the league. They are allowing an average of just 76.7 points per game, the lowest in the league. They also allow the fewest rebounds to their opponents—30.4 per game while they themselves collect 36.4 boards per game.
On offense, the Lynx are still reliant on Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles for the majority of their buckets, and with Brunson and the hot-shooting Cecilia Zandalasini likely on the shelf, the Lynx will need offense from deeper on their bench. Danielle Robinson’s 15 and Temi Fagbenle’s 10 were critical in Wednesday’s game against the Fever—that kind of contribution again would make this one a whole lot easier.
The Lynx are 3-2 in their last five, and looking to work through a period of inconsistent play. All of their games until the All-Star break except a road contest with the Mercury are against teams with inferior records. With Minnesota fighting for position heading into the playoff hunt, the Lynx need to jump at this opportunity to climb in the standings before things get much more difficult in August.
Lynx: PG—Whalen, SG—Augustus, SF—Moore, PF—Miyem, C—Fowles
Aces: PG—Plum, SG—McBride, SF—Young, PF—Wilson, C—Bone
Lynx: Rebekkah Brunson (thigh) and Cecilia Zandalasini (ankle) are questionable.
Aces: No injuries to report.