This year, the Lynx have had some time to prepare for the WNBA Western Conference finals.

The Lynx dispatched Seattle in two games, clinching the series on Sunday. Then they had three days to get ready for tonight’s opening game with Phoenix.

That meant a day of rest and two days of practicing.

That was not the case the past two seasons. In both 2011 and 2012 the Lynx had their first-round series go three games. That meant one day between the end of one series and the start of the conference finals.

This is a good thing, of course. The team had some rest while Phoenix had to go to three games to dispatch Los Angeles.

But, as coach Cheryl Reeve said before tonight’s game, it’s important that she and her staff didn’t overload the players. There is the danger of over-thinking things.

“For sure,” she said. “Any time you give coaches that much time (it can be a problem). But two days is not enough to really screw it up. But that’s what coaches do. The more time you give us, the more practice time, the more we think of, the more we want to try this or that. I think we’ve learned through the years (how to handle it).’’

That said, the coaches did give the players a lot of information from their scout of the Mercury, a team that has changed coaches and tweaked schemes since the last time the two teams met. We’ll see how the Lynx come out in this game.

“We’re ready to play,” Reeve said.

A couple other pre-game items:

--Reeve agreed that the play of top reserve Monica Wright will be key in this series. Wright will be asked to cover Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi at times, to give Seimone Augustus a break. Wright has traditionally played well against the Mercury. We’ll see if that continues.

--In a joking fashion, I asked Reeve for a prediction. Here’s what she said: “Christian Ponder will not start this Sunday.’’

--Maya Moore was awarded the WNBA Cares Community Assist Award for her contributions to the community in September. It is the first time she has won the honor. Her Maya Moore Academy hosted young girls aged 12 to 17, and Moore also appeared at the Minneapolis YMCA summer basketball program. 

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