A lot of things are going to have to change for the Lynx to have another chance to play at home this season: Better offensive execution, contributions from more people. More defensive help, fewer offensive turnovers.
Defend the perimeter.
The sixth-seeded Lynx opened the 2023 WNBA playoffs — back after missing the playoffs last year — with a 90-60 loss at No. 3 Connecticut on Wednesday night in the first game of a best-of-three series. It was the Sun's biggest ever playoff win, the Lynx's most one-sided playoff loss.
"It seemed like we were surprised by Connecticut's aggression, for some reason,'' Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "We didn't see anything we didn't think we were going to see. We just didn't handle it. We turned it over like crazy. Awfully disappointing.''
And incredibly one-sided. Down nine early in the game, Kayla McBride (16 points) helped push the Lynx back into the game. And, briefly, back in the lead, early in the second quarter.
But it didn't last.
In the span of 10:41 from early in the second into the third, the Sun took over the game with a 34-12 run.
It was a clinic. On offense the Sun dazzled with ball movement, getting assists on 28 of 33 made shots. A modest three-point shooting team during the regular season, Connecticut came out firing from deep, making 16 of 30 threes, setting a franchise playoff record. On defense the Sun jumped pick and rolls, pressured the ball, turning 19 Lynx turnovers into 30 points.
"We have to look inward and see what we did that went wrong,'' said Napheesa Collier (14 points). "That's the beauty of a series, we get another crack at it. A lot of us wish it was tonight. We can do better.''
The ageless DeWanna Bonner had a monster game for the Sun: 17 points, 15 rebounds, six assists, strong defense on Collier. MVP candidate Alyssa Thomas had 15 points, 10 boards, five steals. Rebecca Allen, Tyasha Harris and Tiffany Hayes combined for 12-for-15 shooting on threes and 41 points.
For the Lynx, McBride and Collier scored exactly half the team's points. The rest of the team had 30 on 10-for-34 shooting. Rookies Diamond Miller and Dorka Juhász had a difficult introduction to playoff basketball.
Reeve said the team needs more from Collier and McBride, but it also needs more from everywhere in the rotation during Game 2 Sunday. "Phee will bounce back, and that will make it easier for KMac. But we need more, we need help from everywhere.''
Connecticut had a 12-3 edge on second-chance points, a 30-9 edge off turnovers, 16-3 on the break.
"They had another gear,'' McBride said. "That's what experienced teams do. They were in the finals last season. We'll take these few days, look at film. That's why it's a series. Now it's our turn to show what kind of gear we have for the next game.''
Said Collier: "I'll be watching film to see what I can do better. You have to make an adjustment.''
They'll need it to force a Game 3, which would be at Target Center next Wednesday. Reeve, Collier and McBride all promised a better game. After all, the Lynx have worked through adversity already this season, making the playoffs after an 0-6 start.
"It's a collective with this group,'' Reeve said. "We've had hard times before. We've gotten smacked before. We were 0-6. This team always gets up. We're not going to not get up.''
Collier said the chemistry on the team would be the reason.
"We don't assign blame on people, we look at ourselves and see what we can do,'' she said. "We want to do better for each other. That's what allowed us to turn our season around, and it will allow us to play better Sunday.''
The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.