A season ago, the Minnesota Lynx opened the 2018 WNBA Playoffs with a rare early opening-round exit after losing to the Los Angeles Sparks on the road.
Fast forward to a year later, Minnesota was faced with a similar situation on Wednesday night when it traveled to face the Seattle Storm in a first-round single-elimination game to kick off the postseason.
Unfortunately for the Lynx, the same result would occur this season, falling to the sixth-seeded Storm 84-74 in a playoff showdown at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Washington.
With the loss, Minnesota sees both its postseason run and season come to an abrupt end after putting together a regular-season record of 18-16.
With the win, the Storm will advance to face off against No. 3 Los Angeles in a second-round single-elimination game at 2 p.m. CT on ESPN2. The winner of that game will play either No. 2 Connecticut or No. 1 Washington in the semifinal round.
To open up the game, Seattle controlled the pace and took over basically from the opening tip at home. The Storm shot 60 percent from the field in the first quarter to grab an early 29-21 lead going into the second quarter.
To finish out the first half, Minnesota was able to dig into Seattle’s lead a bit going into the break. The Lynx, which trailed by as many as 14 points in the first half, managed to cut the Storm lead down to 47-41 at halftime after holding a 20-18 advantage in the quarter.
In the third quarter, Minnesota rookie Napheesa Collier did all she could to help her team climb back into the game. While scoring 11 of the Lynx final 13 points in the quarter, along with helping the Lynx go on an 8-0 run to end the frame, Minnesota outscored Seattle 18-17 in the third to cut the lead down to 64-59 going into the final 10 minutes of the contest.
To finish out the game, the Lynx tried to make a late-game comeback attempt, but ultimately were unable to climb back into things even after going on a brief run to begin the quarter.
Collier ended up tallying a double-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals in the game to lead Minnesota, becoming the third rookie in WNBA history to record a double-double in a playoff debut, joining Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings (who did it twice) as the only others to do so.
Behind Collier, Damiris Dantas had a team-high 20 points and six rebounds, Sylvia Fowles grabbed a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds and Seimone Augustus added six points and three rebounds off the bench for Minnesota, which finished shooting 45.7 percent from the field in the game.
The backcourt duo of Jordin Canada and Jewell Loyd led the way for Seattle in the contest, with Canada grabbing a career-high 26 points and four assists while Loyd finished with 22 points and three steals for the Storm, who shot 47 percent as a team. The duo of Canada and Loyd outscored Minnesota’s starting backcourt of Odyssey Sims and Danielle Robinson 48-1 in the game.
The Lynx, who finished out the regular season rolling while winning five of their last six games heading into the postseason, had hoped their 2019 playoff run would be different than what they experienced a season ago.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, this year ends the same as it did in 2018 with another first-round exit in the playoffs.