For the first time in three years, the Lynx have spent some time out of first place in the WNBA’s Western Conference. That’s partly because the team went 3-3 in its past six games, played over 10 days.
And coach Cheryl Reeve couldn’t be happier.
Well, that might be an overstatement. Neither Reeve nor her team are used to losing any games, much less four of six during an early stretch in June. But Reeve will say that she has learned something about this team that makes her confident.
“This team has some serious mental and physical toughness that is hard to play against,” Reeve said.
This team is tougher, Reeve said, than the 2013 version that won a second title in three years. And that’s why, after going 11-4 to start the season, despite mounting injuries and a difficult schedule, Reeve is confident the team is ready to make a move.
The Lynx play Friday in Seattle. But then they play seven of the next nine games at home, with no back-to-backs, and with both Devereaux Peters and Monica Wright, sidelined to start the season after knee surgeries, getting better by the game. The team is still hoping to get forward Rebekkah Brunson back after the All-Star break — the game is July 19 — to further bolster the roster.
But the Lynx, right now, are a battle-tested bunch.
“Much more than at this point last season,” forward Maya Moore said. “We are past the point now where we’re going to let teams out-tough us.”
The Lynx are 5-2 in games decided by six points or fewer. Last year’s team had only six of those games, going 2-4.
“This team is a problem-solving team,” Reeve said. “When you get down 10 you have the mentality that says, ‘OK, here’s what we have to do.’ They feel like they climbed a mountain, so to speak. And now we’re coming back down.”
There are still things to shore up. Reeve is unhappy with the team’s defensive efficiency. And Minnesota has the league’s lowest-scoring bench.
But the team appears in a good position.
“It’s set up for us to be very productive,” Moore said of the schedule. “We’re going to do all we can to take advantage of that.”