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Minnesota also helped Connecticut’s hot shooting by playing sloppily with the ball. A total of 19 Lynx turnovers led to 30 Sun points, compared to just nine points from 13 Connecticut turnovers for Minnesota.

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It was a dominant victory for a team that won 27 games playing in front of its home crowd and is now back to the drawing board ahead of a do-or-die Game 2 for Minnesota. Perhaps the only silver lining the Lynx can take from Game 1 is how well they have responded after tough losses throughout 2023.

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“We’ve had tough times before,” head coach and president of basketball operations Cheryl Reeve said. “We have been hit before. We were 0-6. This team always gets up. We are not going to not get up.

“Most of what we saw was not a surprise to us. Our execution, really on both ends, was not up to the standard needed to win a playoff game, especially against these guys.”

The Lynx had a difficult time keeping up with Connecticut’s powerful offense. Newly extended guard Kayla McBride had a good first half, hitting 5 of 7 from the field and 2 of 4 from deep for 14 points at the intermission. The rest of the Lynx, however, were 5 of 20 from the field in the first 20 minutes and left at the half with a 14-point hole. Things didn’t get better from there.

A couple of factors that didn’t help it improve were the absences of point guard Lindsay Allen and Jessica Shepard. Allen missed the final quarter of the regular season with a left thumb injury and Shepard has been out since Aug. 26 with persistent synovitis in his left ankle.

Allen is in the fifth week of a six-week prognosis and likely would not return in the event of a Game 3, depriving the Lynx of one of their few true offensive creators and a dangerous weapon in the pick-and-roll. No formal schedule has been given for Shepard, who has missed the final six games and missed 19 total on the season. Both players had big games the night Minnesota found a winning formula against the Sun in an 87-83 win at Mohegan Sun on July 30, despite Connecticut superstar Alyssa Thomas recording one of her traditional 3-pointers. -fortnightly doubles.

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“There is no doubt that we look different. The skills of those two players are not the same as those who take their place,” Reeve said. “When any player goes down, you transform into something different and try to use the strengths of Tiff (Mitchell) and Dorka (Juhász) to find those spaces. “We need them to produce.”

Shepard matched Thomas with a game-high 14 rebounds and 12 points, and Allen had one of his best offensive nights of the year, scoring 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and six assists. A level of production from the point and post that was notably absent in the Sun’s Game 1 blowout of Minnesota.

To be fair, those weren’t the only notable absences in Minnesota’s production department Wednesday night. McBride calmed down after the first half and Napheesa Collier also didn’t play up to her star standards. Sitting on the wrong end of another team’s biggest playoff victory in franchise history, it’s easy to say everything has to be better. One of the keys to success could lie in finding a way to recreate the pick-and-roll creativity and interior scoring threat that is currently on the bench in street clothes.

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“We need Tiff to be aggressive. He’s going to look different than Los Angeles (Lindsay Allen),” Reeve said. “As you know, LA evolved into a very good pick-and-roll player, decision-maker, and here (in July) she made some really physically difficult shots in the pick-and-roll game. Tiff certainly has the ability to hit the same places. He just looks different.

“Dorka’s recognition that the matchup is unique in that (DeWanna) Bonner is a good defender, she’s long, but she’s not a post player, so to speak. Jess (Shepard) had the ability to take advantage of that because Jess likes to score inside. So can Dorka find some of those spaces where she can be useful to attack the rim, play pick and roll, roll, finish and make plays there? “If we can get those two to live in those spaces, then it would be productive for us.”

The Lynx will have a chance to make those adjustments on Sunday, with Game 2 scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. ET in Connecticut.


#Key #absences #loom #Minnesota #Lynx #playoff #opener

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