The reality of the WNBA’s current playoff structure is a cruel one: For those outside the top two seeds, if you don’t bring your ‘A’ game in either of the first two rounds, you’re going home.

Or, in the Lynx’s case, staying home.

Minnesota’s 2021 playoff experience can be described as short and not so sweet. After just one game — Sunday’s stunning 89-76 loss to sixth-seeded Chicago at Target Center — it’s over. The No. 3 seed is out.

Minnesota picked the wrong time to play one of its worst games in months, and in the process spoiled what looked to have the makings of a special season.

The Lynx trailed by as many as 14 points in the final quarter, and while Minnesota made a push late — largely thanks to Aerial Powers, who led the way with 24 points and whose shot making kept the Lynx around — it was too little too late.

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The Lynx committed 20 turnovers that led to 22 Chicago points. Minnesota floor general Layshia Clarendon played just 12 minutes, as she was clearly limited by her right fibula. Sylvia Fowles established her presence early in the game, but Minnesota could get its start center any touches over the final three quarters. Fowles had 17 points on only nine attempts from the field.

Chicago had five players score in double figures, led by Courtney Vandersloot’s 19 points.

Minnesota got little from Napheesa Collier. The third-year forward seemed to lack much in the way of a spark all afternoon, finishing with just eight points on 3 for 10 shooting while getting beat to numerous rebounds. When Collier couldn’t chase down a pass from Kayla McBride that bounced out of bounds, McBride yelled out a “c’mon, Phee!” as she went to the sidelines for a timeout.