The Minnesota Lynx are back

It was looking really bad earlier this year. Fans shook their heads, sure that Father Time had finally caught up to the WNBA's greatest dynasty.

It was looking really bad earlier this year. Fans shook their heads, sure that Father Time had finally caught up to the WNBA's greatest dynasty. They had lost four games in a row, and if the Lynx were defeated one more time, it would be their longest losing streak since drafting Maya Moore. Critics chirped about draft picks and rebuilding as Minnesota was blown out by their perennial rival, the Los Angeles Sparks. 

Maybe we jumped the gun just a little bit. Hindsight is 20/20, and looking back, it seems irrational to condemn a team after just seven games. 

Part of it is the fact that we've never seen such an old team succeed in this league. Another part of it is that we've grown accustomed to continuous dominance from the Lynx. In the last seven years, Minnesota has been to Finals six times and won four championships. After so many years of beautiful basketball, anything short of excellence looks mediocre. 

Moore, always an explosive player, has been pure dynamite over the last six games. She has scored 20, 21, 23, 23, 32, and 24 points. 

The 29-year-old has been shooting low percentages- by her standards- from both three and mid-range. However, during this winning streak, she has picked up her efficiency. In addition, the resurgence of Seimone Augustus' legendary mid-range jump shot has given Moore more space to work with. Her speed and handles mean that when given an inch of space, Moore takes a mile.

As mentioned above, Augustus' return to full health has been incredibly important for Minnesota's success. After a disappointing start to the season, many questioned whether Augustus' 12 years in the league were catching up to her. However, it was revealed that she had been suffering from a sore hamstring, and would sit out almost of week of practices and a game. This rest appeared to be just what the 34-year-old needed. 

Aside from her scoreless outing against the Dream, Augustus has averaged 13 points per game since her return. She looks far more mobile on the court and is able to pose a threat off-ball as well as be a contributing part of the Lynx's strong defensive rotations.

Equally important has been Cheryl Reeve's tough decision to start reducing some of her veterans' minutes. Both Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are averaging career lows in minutes per game. Not only does this keep these aging players fresher, it also gives the bench unit a chance to get an actual rhythm going. 

Key to the success of the reserves has been Danielle Robinson. At 29-years-old, Robinson has six years of WNBA experience under her belt while still being in her prime athletically. She is an excellent distributor- she leads the Lynx in assists per game with 3.2- and will only get better under the tutelage of Whalen. Robinson isn't a high volume scorer and has averaged just seven points over the last six games. However, she makes up for it with her tenacity on defense.

When speaking about bench excellence, we can't forget about Cecilia Zandalasini. The 22-year-old is an incredibly intriguing prospect. She has the third lowest usage rates on the team, so even with these increased minutes, her stats don't exactly jump off the page. However, in the rare instances when she does get the ball, the Italian makes excellent use of her time. 

She has an effective field goal percentage of 61.4 percent; Sylvia Fowles is the only Lynx player who has a higher percentage. In addition, she has the highest three-point attempt rate and the second highest three-point percentage on the team. This makes her very valuable as Minnesota is the third lowest in the WNBA in percentage of points off three's.  Zandalasini has averaged eight points during the Lynx's win streak. 

With the success of players new and old, Minnesota has climbed back into playoff contention. They are now 9-6, tied for the fifth-best record in the league. Just a game and half ahead sit the Sparks and Storm, tied for the second seed. If the Lynx can pass up these worthy adversaries, they can once again earn that coveted double-bye for the playoffs. 

After all the talk of an era's end and the inevitability of time, Minnesota has found a way to turn back the clock. If this team can continue to play like they're drinking from the fountain of youth, there's a good chance we could see the Lynx in the Finals once more. 

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