Alexa PhilippouESPN4 minute read
UNCASVILLE, Conn. — The No. 6 seed Minnesota Lynx forced a winner-take-all third game in their first-round series against the No. 3 Connecticut Sun with an 82-75 victory Sunday at the Mohegan Sun Sand.
Forward Napheesa Collier (26 points) and guard Kayla McBride (28 points) led the effort, becoming the first pair of Lynx teammates to score at least 25 points each in a playoff game; both marks were also personal bests in the playoffs.
The Sun cut the Lynx’s 16-point lead to three late in the quarter, but Minnesota held them off down the stretch to avoid elimination.
“We’ve been in bad situations all season and we’ve responded,” McBride said. “Today was just another example of that.”
After an 0-6 start in their first season without a member of their 2010 dynasty, the Lynx have a chance to win their first playoff series since 2017, when they won their most recent WNBA title. The franchise had not won a game in a playoff series since then.
“From 0-6 with 40 minutes left in the semifinals,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “What more could you want?”
Game 3 will be played Wednesday in Minnesota (the best-of-three first-round series has a 2-1 format, with the highest seed hosting the first two games and the lowest seed hosting Game 3 if necessary ), at a time to be announced.
After a lackluster performance in Game 1 (14 points), Collier rebounded with a double-double of 26 points and 13 rebounds despite dealing with back pain that forced her to temporarily go to the locker room. She described the problem as “a pinched nerve or SI joint, I think it was… nothing that’s going to hurt you long term, but it sucks in the moment.”
“I want to leave it all on the court and do everything I can for my team,” said Collier, an MVP candidate in her first full season after giving birth last spring. “It’s such a special group of women that I play with this year so I want to give them everything and I expect the same from them and I think that’s why we have a great team.”
Tiffany Mitchell (ankle) and DeWanna Bonner (nose) also left with injuries in the second half before returning to finish the game.
Connecticut faces its second first-round elimination game in two seasons; Last year, in the first round, on the way to the WNBA Finals, they beat Dallas on the road.
“I think the most important thing for us is to not let what happened today (happen again),” said Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas, who finished with 26 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists. “We didn’t come out ready to play. We knew what was at stake. And now, unfortunately, we have to play on their court, which is a difficult thing to do.”
Lynx players said before the game that if they could steal a road game on Sunday, they would have the advantage heading into Game 3.
“If we play like that again, we’ll be very difficult to beat and it’s fun to play that way,” Collier said. “So I can’t wait for the next game.”
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