Both the Minnesota Lynx and Atlanta Dream are missing key rotation players heading into their third and final meeting of the 2021 season. Can Chennedy Carter’s return help the Dream upset the Lynx?
The Minnesota Lynx (5-7) will conclude their season series with the Atlanta Dream (5-7) on Wednesday at 7 p.m. ET. Minnesota took both of the previous games between the two teams, defeating Atlanta 86-84 on June 4 and 100-80 on June 6.
If the Lynx are to sweep the Dream, they’ll need to do so without the services of Aerial Powers (UCL tear) and Natalie Achonwa (MCL sprain). According to the Lynx, both players are out indefinitely. Powers has played in just four games this season, missing both earlier games against the Dream due to a hamstring injury.
Elsewhere on the injury front, Atlanta has lost leading scorer Tiffany Hayes to an MCL injury. The Dream will, however, get Chennedy Carter back from an elbow injury; Carter did not play in either of the Dream’s previous two losses to Minnesota, so one thing to watch for in the third game will be how they perform with Carter in the lineup and Hayes out.
One thing is for sure: Atlanta will need to find a way to slow down the Lynx offense. Minnesota shot better than 50 percent from the field in both previous victories; while the Dream made 12 threes on June 4 and 10 on June 6, they were unable to outshoot their opponents, who got seemingly whatever they wanted in the half-court despite turning the ball over a total of 30 times.
It’s those turnovers that could be the greatest threat to the Lynx in this matchup. Minnesota is currently turning the ball over on 19.5 percent of its possessions, which is the 11th-highest rate in the WNBA; Atlanta, on the other hand, ranks third in percentage of turnovers forced at 20.3 percent.
Minnesota Lynx (5-7) vs. Atlanta Dream (5-7)
When: Wednesday, June 23 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Gateway Center Arena, College Park, GA
How to watch: BSSEX-ATL, Bally Sports North Plus, TSN5, WNBA League Pass
Lynx injury report: Jessica Shepard (questionable; groin), Natalie Achonwa (out; knee), Aerial Powers (out; thumb), Rennia Davis (out for season; foot)
Dream injury report: Chennedy Carter (probable; elbow), Tiffany Hayes (out; knee)
Keys to the matchup: Even without Hayes, Atlanta isn’t going to change how it defends, so the Lynx will need to take care of the basketball if they’re going to sweep the series. Getting the ball to Sylvia Fowles early and often is important for Minnesota, but you can bet that the Dream will try to be as disruptive as possible on post entry passes. On offense, Carter’s return should be a huge boost to the Dream’s pick-and-roll game, but we’ll see if it’s enough to offset the loss of Hayes and her ability to get to the free throw line.