September 1, 2019 is the last time the Minnesota Lynx, the most decorated pro sports team in the state, played at home or in-front of fans of any kind.
They spent the entirety of the 2020 season in Bradenton, Fla., playing in the WNBA bubble while the coronavirus pandemic overtook the sports world and pushed back the start of the WNBA season until late-July.
Still, the Lynx made the most of it. In what was supposed to be a rebuilding year, they finished 14-8 in the bubble, slipped past Phoenix 80-79 in the second round of the playoffs before losing to Seattle in the WNBA semifinals.
With the announcement of a 32-game schedule for 2021, including a season-opener at Target Center on May 14, there are a lot of games to look forward to in this Lynx season.
May 14 vs. Phoenix
After more than 21 months since their last game at Target Center, the season opener against Phoenix will be a welcome party to not only new Lynx additions like Natalie Achonwa, Kayla McBride and Aerial Powers, but the home debut of 2020 WNBA Rookie of the Year Crystal Dangerfield and the return of 2019 WNBA Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier. And expect Phoenix to be looking for revenge after the Lynx edged them in the playoffs last season.
Thursday, May 20 vs. Seattle and Friday, May 28 at Seattle
A drawn out home-and-home series with the Storm will be a nice litmus test for the newly rebuilt Lynx in their third and fourth games of the season. The Storm, led by Breanna Stewart, Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird, swept the Lynx out of the WNBA semifinals last season before sweeping Las Vegas in the finals. Still Seattle, like the Lynx, went through some roster rebuilding in the offseason. After these two contests, the teams will square-off a third and final time in August.
June 25 vs. Las Vegas
The first chance for the Lynx to face the Aces comes in their 14th game of the season, a Friday night prime-time game in downtown Minneapolis. It will also be the first time McBride faces her former team since signing with the Lynx in February. McBride averaged 12.5 points, 2.4 assists and 2.3 rebounds per game for Las Vegas last season and was named a WNBA All-Star twice during her three seasons with the Aces.
Sunday, July 11 at Los Angeles
The final game before the team breaks for over a month for the 2021 Olympic Games, which are set to take place in Tokyo from July 23-August 8. The Lynx and Sparks have had one of the most historic rivalries in WNBA history after facing each other in back-to-back finals series in 2016 and 2017. But neither team has reached the finals since the Lynx won in five games in '17.
The Lynx could be well represented at the games, head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve is an assistant coach on Dawn Staley's staff and Collier, Fowles and McBride are all among the pool of players that could be selected for Team USA. Internationally, Achonwa is among 20 players being considered for Team Canada.
Four-game home stand, Aug. 24-Sept. 4
Following the Olympics, the Lynx will get to settle in for their longest home stand of the season, a four-game set that features contests with Seattle (Aug. 24), New York (Aug. 31), Los Angeles (Sept. 2) and Washington (Sept. 4). The Lynx close out the season with six out of seven at home then finish with road games at Indiana and Washington before the postseason gets underway.