Fever 82, Lynx 76: The panic reaches its climax

Game history

August 3, 2019.

It was the last time the Indiana fever defeated the Minnesota Lynx. Since then, Minnesota had won seven straight games heading into that Tuesday night game. Both sitting at 0-2, something had to move. Fever’s extremely young and inexperienced team faced off against a team of Lynx veterans with all the motivation to right their ship. Jessica Shepard mentioned in the post-game presser that she could see a look in Sylvia Fowles‘ eyes before the tip. Fowles certainly got his own, going for a season-high 26 points (12/17 FG), 14 rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks.

Unfortunately, the rest of the team combined to only make 20 of 60 shots.

Such was the story of the Lynx season. A lack of consistent production from the supporting cast, with the understanding that many of them are still unavailable. Napheesa Collier (pregnancy), Kayla McBride (overseas) and Damiris Dantas (injury recovery) being the household names we’re used to seeing. Even some of the new supporting cast were unavailable, with Natalie Achonwa (New Hamstring Injury) and Odyssey Sims (Undisclosed Personnel). Lack of chemistry and performing play calls have been commonplace for Lynx’s motley cast to start this disappointing season. Coach Cheryl Reeve is understandably heated when asked about player availability and the lack of consistency.

When it comes to gaming, we had quite the seesaw affair. Minnesota missed its first seven shot attempts until Shepard caught a miss of its own at 5:52. It was part of a 17-4 Lynx run that was boosted by 10 first-quarter turnovers by the Fever, giving Minnesota a 21-12 advantage. This was short-lived, however, as Kelsey Mitchell followed a 0-point first period with a 13-point explosion in the second quarter alone. Mitchell’s efforts punctuated a 36-18 quarter in which the Fever regained a seven-point lead before the break.

The great wheel of momentum has returned in favor of Minnesota. Specifically, Rachel Banham escaped for three triples to lead an 11-0 run. RayBan entered the game shooting 11.1% from the field, but finished with Minnesota’s only four marks from deep, with a total of 14 points, four cents and zero turnovers. The visiting Lynx also received support throughout the game from Jessica Shepard, which has been one of the only bright spots of the season so far. She continued her exemplary play, contributing at both ends of the court and finishing just one assist away from a triple-double.

That said, there weren’t many other positives for Minnesota. Newly signed Angel McCoughtry only played about three minutes in the second half, although coach Reeve did not indicate after the game that it was a health issue. Air powers got an early dry hit due to an ineffective shot (1 out of 10). Yvonne Turner coughed the ball six times. The aforementioned six players were the only ones to play double-digit minutes and you could see them trudging to the finish line. Banham’s fourth three-pointer gave Minnesota a 69-67 lead with 7:01 to go, but that was pretty much all Indiana went from there. Lynx’s old friend, Dangerous field of crystaldid for her new team what she often did for the old one: make clutch plays to help her team wrap up the game.

The loss of playing essentially the same formation for the entire second half was palpable, as the Lynx simply didn’t have enough juice to get saves or execute their offense. Turnovers and desperate three-pointers highlighted an otherwise above-average effort for Minnesota as they suffered their third straight loss.

They are the only team at 0-3.

Game Highlights

Game Notes

  • Jessica Shepard continues to impress with his all-around game. Her vision of the court and her efforts on the glass really show the world what Coach Reeve saw in her. Jess finished the game with 10 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and a steal.
  • Carleton Bridge, or “Carl” as Rachel Banham calls it, was also effective, finishing with eight points, six rebounds, one assist, one steal and a team high +8. It certainly felt like she was doing all the right parts like she usually does. Now she just needs to shoot her perimeter to start falling.
  • Rennia Davis saw her first WNBA minutes tonight, making her debut just hours before being re-signed by the Lynx. The 2021 draft pick played just three minutes tonight but scored on his only field goal attempt. Hopefully we see more of Davis moving forward.
  • Apart from Kelsey Mitchell, Fever rookies NaLyssa Smith (9/5/3), Destanni Henderson (8/0/5), and Queen Ebo (Eight tracks!) looked really comfortable there. Smith and Egbo fought valiantly with Fowles all night, while Henderson threw himself into the paint at will. Things are starting to look up for Indiana!

And after

Coach Reeve and the Lynx have three days off before welcoming the defending champion chicago sky (0-1) to target center on Saturday 5/14 @ 7pm CT. Things don’t get much easier from there, so hopefully things start to fall into place soon.