Minnesota Lynx Preview: June 24nd - 30th

While last week was an important step in the right direction, Minnesota needs to have a strong showing this week if they are to get back on track.

Last week was encouraging as the Lynx started to play a bit more like the defending WNBA champions they are. Minnesota went 3-0 this week, strengthened by the resurgence of Seimone Augustus and strong bench performances. Augustus, who struggled through the first nine games of the season with a sore hamstring, sat out Saturday's game and the practices preceding it. It appeared the rest was just what she needed, as the 34-year-old was crucial in the Lynx's next two victories.

Also important in these wins was the performance of Minnesota's bench. Danielle Robinson put up 15 points against the Wings and Cecilia Zandalasini scored seven points on the Mercury in just one quarter.

The Lynx crushed the New York Liberty by 14 on Saturday. On Tuesday, they pulled out a crucial victory over Dallas, who currently sit two seeds above Minnesota. The icing on the cake came on Friday night when the Lynx pulled out a thrilling victory over the first seed Mercury at Phoenix.

Despite this improvement, the Lynx still have the fifth worst record in the league after their rocky start to the season. While this week was an important step in the right direction, Minnesota needs to have a strong showing this week if they are to get back on track. 

Sunday, June 24th vs Las Vegas Aces

Even though the Aces have the third worst record in the league, this team should not be underestimated. Lead by dominant rookie A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas has won their last two games. Wilson is proving to be a generational talent, averaging 20.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. She plays with unusual maturity for a rookie and has already etched her name into the history books.

Luckily for the Lynx, Sylvia Fowles didn't win the Defensive Player of the Year award three times for nothing. While Wilson is undeniably destined for greatness, Fowles' experience and strength should give her the upper hand—at least for now.

Tuesday, June 26th vs Seattle Storm

The Lynx's matchup with the Storm will likely be their toughest of the week. The Storm are currently the third seed and have won three out of their last four games. They have two of the top ten leading scorers, in Breanna Stewart and Jewell Lloyd, who are averaging 22 and 17.9 points per game respectively. With these two at the helm, the Storm have the best offensive rating in the league.

Also a threat is Natasha Howard, who the Lynx traded for a second-round draft pick during the offseason. That move is looking a little silly now that Howard is averaging 14.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. The 26-year-old strengthens the Storm's defensive presence and gives them a consistent third scoring option.

In order to pull out a win over Seattle, the Lynx are going to have to play scrappy defense to disrupt the Storm's pristine offense. This is a team that leads the league in assist to turnover ratio and thrives when given the time to pick apart the defense, so Minnesota will have to play aggressively and intelligently to keep them in check. 

Friday, June 29th vs Atlanta Dream

The Dream are one of the WNBA's most intriguing teams this season. They currently have the best defensive rating and the worst offensive rating in the league. Outside of Angel McCoughtry and Tiffany Hayes, Atlanta lacks any kind of consistent scoring. However, their intimidating defensive presence is usually enough to make up for it.

The Lynx and Dream should be a pretty even matchup. Atlanta is 7-6 while Minnesota is 6-6. The team's first meeting this season was a thrilling duel that came down to the buzzer, with the Dream winning by two points in the end. With their significant upswing over the past week, there is no doubt that the Lynx can beat Atlanta, though it won't be a cakewalk by any means.  

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