Lynx need a consistent third scorer behind Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore
MINNEAPOLIS — In 2017, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore combined to average 36.2 points a game, leading a Lynx offense that averaged 85.3 points a game, third-best in the WNBA.
This season, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore have combined to average 36.2 points a game, leading a Lynx offense averaging 79.1 points a game, eighth-best in the WNBA.
The superstars are doing their part on the offensive end. Everyone else? Not so much. Lindsay Whalen (5.1 points a game) and Seimone Augustus (10.4) are averaging career scoring lows. Rebekkah Brunson is scoring 7.7 points a game, down from 10.2 last season.
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve has found a pattern. When Moore and/or Fowles has a great game, the Lynx win. When neither plays well, the Lynx lose.
"Obviously, if neither play well, we don't win. We score 59 points when that happens," Reeve said, referencing Minnesota's 71-59 loss to last-place Indiana last week.
If the Lynx want to be more than a barely-above-.500 team, Reeve said they need to find the balance that has been the staple of this dynasty.
"We can win games if Maya and Syl are good," Reeve said. "But in order for us to achieve higher-level goals, it's always been about balance. It's about finding points at the point guard position, it's about bench coming in. Right now it's just, 'Key on Syl, key on Maya.' Keep (Augustus) under control, don't let her go nuts. And where else? We have to develop that balance to what we're doing."
The Lynx's most recent two losses can almost entirely be chalked up to their offensive struggles. Minnesota is second in the league in points allowed at 77.3 points a game. The Lynx (11-8) have surrendered fewer than 78 points in five of their eight losses.
"So 80 has got to be our number on offense," Reeve said. "We're finding different ways to get there, we're looking at our actions. This is that point in time when you have a couple of days where you can look pretty hard at what are we doing well, and how can we put ourselves into doing those things. What are you not doing well, let's try to cull those things back. Some of it is personnel, some of it is schemes. We have to find a way to get more consistent."
Reeve said the Lynx "need" a third scorer, whether that's a starter or someone off the bench. But she also said it has to be more than that. In last week's 83-72 win over the Sparks, the Lynx were led by 27 from Fowles and 15 from Brunson, but also got 10 from Whalen, eight from Moore and Danielle Robinson, seven from Augustus and six from Cecilia Zandalasini.
Whalen said players need to follow Reeve's instructions: "look for your shot and shoot it with confidence when you get it." The point guard said there's some element to looking to attack certain matchups, but when the Lynx are rolling, there's no need for a concerted effort to get someone going.
"I think once we get that rhythm back and find that, the scoring and the balance, that kind of takes care of itself," Whalen said. "Like against L.A., it wasn't a concerted effort for any other person to step up, it just happens. It's hard to force it, too; you can't really force it. You've got to still let it come to you. But when we play team basketball and share the ball and move it, things usually work out well for us."