"We know what style to prepare for, we know what our playbook looks like versus if you are playing Connecticut," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said after Friday's practice. "And so we got to lock in on some of those things today. And some of the schemes we anticipate Indiana will play."
On Friday, the Lynx finally knew who their opponent in the WNBA Finals was going to be. Indiana beat Connecticut on the Sun's home court on Thursday night to advance.
"We know it is going to be a hard series and we have to be ready to do battle," Reeve said. Wonder if any coach has ever said he or she expected an easy series in the Finals.
Reeve said that the Fever, throughout the season, have been missing players and had other players step up. "It is a team that is very, very gritty," Reeve said. "That is a credit to what Lin Dunn does. And who she is. They have made the most of opportunities when players have been out."
Dunn, of course, is the respect Fever coach. She is from Tennessee and speaks her mind. This is her fourth season as head coach of the Fever. She had Indiana in the Finals her first year, but the Fever lost to Phoenix.
Reeve said the Fever could win an elimination game on the road was quite a feat: "That was just really an impressive win."
Indiana has already survived four elimination games, two against Atlanta in the first round, and two against the Sun in the second.
"They certainly took the hard road to get here," Reeve said. "But then it is what I expect from this team. If you look at their personnel, at minimum, they play hard. At minimum. They may not always execute. ... But they are making hustle plays. It is not surprising that this is the team that is in the Finals, that came out of the East.
"I don't know that the path you took to get here has much bearing once you get into the Finals. Same thing for us, it doesn't matter that we had rest and they didn't. It is hopefully going to be two tough, gritty teams."
Maybe the path doesn't have much meaning anymore, but if the Fever lose the first two games against the Lynx I will guarantee you every media member will mention how Indiana has come back from the abyss twice.
KEYING ON FEVER'S STRENGTHS
Reeve said Tamika Catchings playing the four position [power forward] is a challenge for Fever opponents because she is really a guard.
Another difficulty in beating the Fever is Indiana's ability to shoot three-pointers so well. "All the work we did over the Olympic break in tweaking our defense to defend the three-point line is going to come in handy," Reeve said.
A third problem Indiana poses is how difficult it is to score on the Fever. "Their defense is really physical and they switch a lot," Reeve saud. "We feel confident because we have seen it. Everything they do, we have seen."
DOUGLAS: WILL SHE PLAY?
One uncertainty with Indiana is Katie Douglas. The veteran, left-handed shooting guard sprained an ankle on Thursday. She is listed as day-to-day.
"I don't coach them," Reeve said. "I can only watch from the outside and know that you are losing 17-18 points a game, you are losing a leader if she doesn't play. We are assuming she is playing."
Really, that's all the Lynx can do. Prepare for the Fever with Douglas in the line-up. Douglas will play if it's at all possible.
One of the reasons for the Fever's playoff success is Erlana Larkins who has emerged with a bigger role. The 6-1 third-year forward is averaging 10.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in the playoffs and has started five of the six games.
That's three more starts than she had in 34 regular-season games.
"She plays hard," Reeve said. "She is like an oversized Brunson. She goes with that same sense of urgency to go get rebounds. And so, as we know when opponents try to stop Rebekkah, Larkins is a very challenging player to keep off the glass.
"We just got to make sure we win the hustle points. That is the thing with Indiana. First and foremost, you've got to win the hustle points. And that is the second-chance points, that is the fast-break points, those sorts of things that will be separators in the series."