The Lynx just wrapped up their last practice before tomorrow’s WNBA semifinals with Washington begins at Williams Arena.
Here are some of the items that came up, post-practice:
--Frankly, Lindsay Whalen, who hasn’t played a game since breaking a bone in her left hand Aug. 3, doesn’t know where her game conditioning is. Yet.
“There’s nothing like game minutes, and I haven’t done that for about six weeks,’’ she said. “So, I can only do what I can do. I’ve worked really hard. I’ve been practicing almost a week now. So, we’ll find out tomorrow. I’ll find out when you guys find out.’’
The good news: Whalen made a point of saying today was the best she’s felt since returning to practice a week ago.
--Nobody knows how formidable Washington coach Mike Thibault can be than Whalen, who began her career playing for him in Connecticut. They went to two WNBA finals together, in 2004 and 2005. Thibault, the winningest coach in league history (270 regular season wins) is known for his in-game adjustments.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have him and coach Reeve as my two coaches throughout my career,’’ Whalen said. “So it doesn’t get any better than that. He’s good. You have to be on it. You have to know what to look for out of certain situations.’’
--Here is Reeve talking about the challenges of playing Washington. It starts with the Mystics defense. “They have a system, and they play it well,’’ Reeve said. “They know their identity on defense. You know in the playoffs you won’t necessarily get what you want. They’ll take away your most frequent stuff. They’re going to make catches harder. So those are things we’ve been preparing for.’’
Reeve mentioned some interesting matchups she’s notices when the two teams have played in the past, which include Elena Delle Donne guarding Seimone Augustus and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt guarding Maya Moore.
“No. 1, we have to be able to put the ball in the hole,’’ Reeve said. “I think our defense, at some point, can get us through. But we have to make sure we’re scoring. You can’t have a stretch like what New York went through [in Sunday’s loss to the Mystics], where you’re turning the ball over, giving them easy stuff in transition. Next thing you know they’re making threes.’’
--Then, of course, you have to stop the Mystics at the three-point line. Kristi Toliver – who was on the L.A. team that beat the Lynx in last year’s finals, hit a playoff-record nine treys for Washington in their rout of New York yesterday. Delle Donne and center Emma Meesseman can also stretch the floor.
--So what’s better, being in the flow like Washington, which had to get through two single-elimination rounds to reach the semifinals? Or having the benefit of a week’s worth of rest like the Lynx?
To Reeve, the bigger question is experience. The Lynx have six players with more playoff experience than Toliver, who leads the Mystics with 26 playoff games.
To Reeve, that is the key. The more experienced a team the easier it is to avoid the pitfalls of looking too far ahead. “They’ve been there, done that,’’ Reeve said of her team. “They’ve experienced getting ahead of yourself, thinking out rather than in.’’