For the Minnesota Lynx, their first game as reigning WNBA champions was downright frustrating, and their second game was historic for Sylvia Fowles.
So what does the third game have in store for the Lynx?
Fowles and the Lynx will find out Friday night when they visit the New York Liberty, but the game will not be at Madison Square Garden.
Instead, the Lynx will make the trip to the Liberty’s new home floor at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, located approximately 30 miles north of Madison Square Garden.
Of course, the Lynx will not care about the venue, especially if Friday resembles Wednesday’s 76-68 win over the Dallas Wings and not Sunday’s 77-76 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks.
After Minnesota committed 24 turnovers and lost on a buzzer beater, Fowles dominated with 23 points and 20 rebounds Wednesday.
It was Minnesota’s first 20-20 game and the 18th in WNBA history. Her 20 rebounds were two shy of a career high and Fowles added five steals and two blocked shots.
Fowles turned in the historic showing after shooting 4 of 14 on her way to 11 points and seven rebounds Sunday.
“She set the tone for us for sure, coming out,” Minnesota forward Maya Moore told reporters. “It was really fun just to watch her be aggressive and be in her element and focus and stay with it.
“If you’re going to get 20-and-20, you’ve got to be persistent the whole game and she was. It was just really energizing for us to have her come in and dominate like that.”
New York’s problems in its season-opening 80-76 loss at Chicago were not stopping forwards and centers but defending guards. While the Liberty held Chicago’s starting frontcourt to 22 points, they allowed guards Allie Quigley, Jamierra Faulkner and Gabby Williams to combine for 48 points.
Tina Charles will be among those tasked with containing Fowles. Charles scored 19 points on Sunday and Kia Nurse had 17 points in her WNBA debut. Nurse’s point total was the most by a Canadian player in her debut since Stacey Dales scored 23 points for Washington in 2002.
“It’s going to be a harder game,” Charles said of facing Minnesota. “We’ve got to be more aggressive. We’ve got to take ownership of our mistakes and what we do. That’s just the way we have to go out and play moving forward.”
Friday will mark the home coaching debut of Katie Smith, who took over when Bill Laimbeer took the reins of the Las Vegas Ace. Smith was a seven-time WNBA All-Star and spent the last four seasons assisting Laimbeer with the Liberty.
“Minnesota is a veteran group who can execute well on the offensive end,” Smith said. “We’ll have to battle Sylvia Fowles, be in Maya Moore’s space and disrupt them.
“On the offensive end, we need to take good shots, create for others, cut hard and do a lot of the little things. That’s really what separates good teams from great teams.”
Minnesota won two of three meetings last season. In New York’s 70-61 home win on Aug. 20, the Lynx were held to 33 percent shooting and Fowles totaled seven points and 15 rebounds.