The WNBA playoffs are slated to begin next week and it's already a forgone conclusion for some that the Las Vegas Aces or New York Liberty will be in the finals. However, the Minnesota Lynx may have something to say about it.
Last Sunday, Minnesota punched their postseason ticket after defeating the Phoenix Mercury 86-73. Sunday night's victory also was Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve's 300th career win.
The Lynx are in fifth place with a 19-19 record and have two games left with the chance to finish over .500. Originally Minnesota started the season 0-6 but have turned it around. They are just the second team in WNBA history to make the postseason after an 0-6 start after the 2015 Los Angeles Sparks.
The Lynx will make their first playoff series appearance since the 2021 postseason. Some critics, analysts, teams, and fans may have written off the Lynx but they have a chance to make it to the WNBA Finals.
Here are some reasons why Minnesota could shock the world.
The well rounded approach of Napheesa Collier
Napheesa Collier is the leader of this team and continues to shine day in and day out. She is averaging 21.3 points (career-high), 8.4 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 83.8 percent from the charity stripe.
At this moment, Collier is fourth in scoring, 11th in blocks, and seventh in rebounding. She can impact the game in multiple ways but Minnesota is able to run the offense through her any night. Collier is able to impact the game without dominating the ball and she is one of the main reasons scoring is spread evenly throughout the team.
Minnesota has a balanced attack on the offensive end due to Collier's selfless approach. Currently, Collier is leading the team in scoring with 21.3 points per game, followed by Kayla McBride (13.9 points), Diamond Miller (11.7 points), Jessica Shepard (8.1 points), and Tiffany Mitchell (7.3 points).
Collier's leadership and ability to share the ball will benefit this team come postseason. Her IQ is tremendous and she always knows where her teammates are on the floor at all times.
Aerial Powers is the x-factor
Every team has an x-factor that can help the franchise take the extra mile, for Minnesota it's none other than Aerial Powers. She can help this team navigate through the postseason and reach the Finals.
Powers is so important because of her grit, intensity, and playoff experience. In 2019, she played a vital role in the Washington Mystics championship.
In AP's third season with Minnesota, she has played just 19 games due to injury and is trying to get back into the rotation. She is averaging 5.3 points, and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 41.6 percent from the floor.
During Powers' first two seasons with the team, she averaged double figures. Needless to say, fans should not be worried about her stats because she is an instant bucket who can get hot at any minute. Reeve will lean on the eight-year veteran come the postseason. AP is the ultimate competitor and makes her teammates around her better.
The Detroit native can create her own shot, play point guard (in spurts), and run the break. Not to mention, she does not run away from defensive challenges. If Powers reverts back to her 2021 playoff form where she averaged 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists while shooting 50 percent from three, this Lynx team will be tough to beat.
Don't bet against Cheryl Reeve
The last reason why Minnesota can be a dark horse to win the WNBA Finals is because of their head coach — Cheryl Reeve. She is a coach that people should not bet against because of her pedigree, intensity, and approach to the game.
Since taking over as head coach in 2010, the New Jersey native has won four WNBA titles. Her teams are always well-coached and do not make excuses.
When considering matchups in the postseason, it's important to include the coach as well. She will place Collier in the position to be successful without causing burnout. Reeve is also the Lynx's President of Basketball Operations and she has done a great job of building a deep roster. This season 11 individuals out of her 12-player roster have played consistent minutes.
The Lynx can defend the post and lock down on the perimeter with their depth and coaching. Minnesota's deep bench will be a factor in the postseason if they make it out of the first round.