As Cheryl Reeve watched the Lynx practice Thursday morning, she saw everything she hoped to see from Seimone Augustus. The guard, who has missed 10 games after arthroscopic surgery on her right knee, was sprinting, jumping and cutting without pain in a full-speed workout.
Still, Reeve could not say for sure that Augustus will play Friday at Atlanta. The coach is determined not to rush the recovery of her second-leading scorer, and she wants to see how that injured knee reacts after Thursday’s vigorous test at Mayo Clinic Square. If there is no pain or increased swelling Friday, Augustus could start against the Dream; if there is, she will be held out at least until Sunday’s game at Washington.
When Augustus returns, Reeve said, her minutes will be closely monitored for the first few games. Even when they increase, the coach wants to avoid overusing her as the playoffs approach.
“If she’s comfortable, she can play [Friday],” said Reeve, whose team clinched a playoff spot Tuesday. “If she’s not, then we wait, and we take it day by day.
“I don’t want to be playing her 35 minutes. I think the first couple of games back, you’ll see an actual restriction. Then after that, we’ll try to be really, really mindful [of her playing time]. Really, for all [the players], that’s what we’re thinking, to try and make sure that as we move toward the playoffs that we’re feeling really good physically.”
Without Augustus, who averages 15.4 points per game, the Lynx have gone 7-3. In her absence, other guards such as Anna Cruz, Renee Montgomery and Tricia Liston have gotten more playing time and experience in high-pressure situations. Their growing confidence, Reeve said, will help her manage Augustus’ minutes through the final 10 games of the regular season.
Reeve is happy with the rest of her reserves as well. Though she said the Lynx will rely heavily on the starters as they seek to become a “well-oiled machine” for the postseason, she wants to strike a balance to keep everyone as fresh as possible.
“The mindfulness comes from making sure we’re not pushing [starters to play] 34, 35, 36 [minutes] unnecessarily,” she said. “There are some games where it’s going to warrant that, but I just don’t want to do that on a regular basis.
“I’m fairly confident that’s not going to happen. We’re going to have good players behind them, and they’re going to be productive.”