The Lynx were able on Sunday to win their season opener against the Chicago Sky on a night when the Lynx shot 37 percent overall, 23.7 percent in the second half and sub-20 in the fourth quarter.
That will need to change.
The Lynx play in New York on Thursday against a defensive-minded Liberty team determined to shut down the post. The Lynx overcame a woeful offensive showing versus Chicago thanks to Sylvia Fowles’ scoring in the paint. But that alone won’t be enough against the Liberty.
A team that couldn’t shoot straight Sunday will have to hit some shots for the Lynx to go 2-0.
“If we shoot the same [as the team did Sunday], it’s going to be a grind,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
It was a grind at times Sunday. Maya Moore made one of 11 three-pointers and shot 5-for-19 overall. Seimone Augustus was 3-for-10, Lindsay Whalen 3-for-9. Especially in the first half, the Sky dominated the Lynx on the boards.
Against a team that forces you to score from outside and mucks up the paint, the Lynx cannot play the way they did Sunday and win.
“You want to make sure you bounce back,” Moore said. “I need to do whatever I can to stay in a rhythm.”
The Liberty, the two-time defending Eastern Conference champion, is built around a formidable frontcourt featuring Tina Charles. Moving Brittany Boyd into the starting lineup at guard has made the Liberty a quicker and more dangerous team in transition.
That will put pressure on the Lynx’s defense to slow the Liberty, and on their offense to keep up.
After scoring just 26 second-half points Sunday, Minnesota will have to be more efficient. The outside shot will have to fall, and the Lynx will need to get post players shots off the pick-and-roll. They have to take care of the ball, too; the Sky scored 22 points off 15 Lynx turnovers.
No problem, right?
Reeve said the Lynx had two very good days of practice, effort that shows the players know improvement is needed.
“They’re going to have to go down there to cover Syl,” Reeve said. “And we’re going to use that to generate offense for everybody else.”
And then everybody else has to respond. Only Fowles (9-for-15) and Natasha Howard off the bench (2-for-2) shot 50 percent or better against Chicago.
“This is one of those games that Renee [Montgomery], and Jia [Perkins] and Lindsay and Seimone are going to earn their pay on the perimeter,” Reeve said. “They have to knock down the shots that are open for them.”