Arguably, no team this 2023 WNBA season has made us – and plenty others outside of the Land of 10,000 Lakes – eat more crow than the Minnesota Lynx.
We have been staring really closely at our 2023 season preview that we released a few days prior to the tip-off back in May. We had the Lynx at the bottom of the standings. We figured the Lynx would be in a rebuild and the burning question surrounding Minnesota at this point of the season would be if the team would tank to set itself up to draft either home state hero Paige Bueckers or Caitlin Clark with the first overall selection.
But we forgot one important thing – this is Cheryl Reeve we are talking about here. Four-time WNBA champion coach Cheryl Reeve. And if she does not have to do a rebuild, she will not do a rebuild.
Instead of a rebuild, Minnesota appears to have re-tooled. The Lynx are now 13-13 this season – a far distance from the 5-19 record currently that the WNBA’s last place team – the Seattle Storm – currently have.
These Lynx are also indeed road warriors. Minnesota has a record of 7-5 away from Target Center. Their two most recent victories may have been the Lynx’s most impressive of all up to this point.
Let us begin at Barclays Center – home of the New York Liberty, currently the second-place team in the W (and first in the Eastern Conference) only behind the 22-2 Las Vegas Aces.
While the Lynx have already faced off against the defending champions on four occasions – with all four resulting in defeats for Minnesota (94-73, May 28 on road), (93-62, June 18 on road), (113-89, July 9 at home), (98-81, July 21 at home), their fortunes in their most recent contest with New York were a lot more auspicious.
The Lynx notched a 88-83 victory over the Liberty. Kayla McBride, a former Ace, scored 26 points and made four of her seven three-point attempts. Also integral in that winning Minnesota effort was rookie Diamond Miller who finished with 22 points and five rebounds. If not for someone named Aliyah Boston at the Indiana Fever, the 2023 Rookie of the Year trophy would probably have Miller’s name on it.
Dorka Juhasz also chimed in with a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Lynx have two more get-togethers with the Lib this regular season and both are at home – on August 4 and on August 26.
Following Minnesota’s triumph at the intersection of Atlantic & Flatbush, the Lynx made the short trek up to the woods of southeastern Connecticut where the Sun awaited a Sunday afternoon contest.
Sunday, July 30, 2023 was a “WNBA All Day” occasion with all 12 teams taking to the court. Minnesota Lynx at Connecticut Sun was the first game on the six-game card and Stephanie White’s Sun could not tame Reeve’s Lynx.
The final score was 87-83. Five from Minnesota finished in double-digits pointswise starting with McBride who tallied 19 and once again was 4-7 from downtown. She also crossed the 4,000-point threshold for her career. Lindsay Allen put up number indicative of another great Minnesota “Lindsay” (16 points, six assists, two steals).
Aerial Powers logged over 22 minutes on the court. The video game aficionado with her own Twitch made the Sun feel as if containing her was set on hard mode. She finished with 14 points plus three assists and a rejection. It was a double-double kind of Sunday for Jessica Shepard as she hauled in 14 boards (tied for the rebounding lead among all players with Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas) plus 12 points. Juhasz had another strong afternoon with 11 points and six rebounds plus a blocked shot.
Minnesota and Connecticut will exchange pleasantries once again on Tuesday. If the playoffs were to start today, the Lynx and Sun would meet up in the first round as Connecticut is currently the third seed and the Lynx currently at P6.
Notice a name who was not mentioned in either of those recaps? Napheesa Collier – the team’s lone All-Star representative. She is sidelined for roughly the next week to two weeks with an ankle injury and this is what Reeve’s Lynx look like sans their marquee player out of UConn.
Another remarkable detail of the Lynx’s resurgence is the team began the season with an 0-6 start. But looking back on that 0-6 start, only two of those losses were by double-digits and one of those was courtesy of the Aces.
The Lynx have certainly been hard to tame as of late. As was the case with Latricia Trammell’s Dallas Wings, when a team takes to the road to notch victories over championship contenders such as the Liberty and Sun, it certainly inspires confidence for a team that looks to finish strong with the playoffs lurking.
At the start of the season, we felt the burning question on the minds of Cheryl Reeve, Clare Duwelius, Carley Knox and incoming co-owners Alex Rodriguez (who was at All-Star) and Marc Lore was Paige or Caitlin. Now, the vibes in the Twin Cities are different.
Instead of a prolonged rebuild, the Lynx may not be that far from once again being part of the WNBA’s elite teams. A few tweaks here and there and we may start getting 2010s vibes once again from this team – especially with a healthy Phee.
The phrase “Coach of the Year” may also begin to follow Minnesota wherever they go. Cheryl Reeve may have done it again.