Lynx will stick with what's working

  • Article by: AMELIA RAYNO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 16, 2012 - 10:10 PM

The defending champs, who play their final home game Monday night, have the league's best record.

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Seimone Augustus (right) has missed the past three games because of a sprained ankle but expects to be ready for the playoffs. The Lynx will enter the postseason as the dominant team in the WNBA.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune file

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Forget the concept of late-season fine-tuning, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve says. At this point in the year, it's too late to change anything, and one loss after an 11-game winning streak doesn't change any of that.

"We are who we are," she said.

Which, with four games left of the regular season -- including Monday night's final home game, against Indiana -- is a good thing to be. Heading into the final stretch, the Lynx hold a WNBA-best 25-5 record and have the No. 1 seed overall in the league locked down.

They're happy with the winning brand of basketball they've built, and now they want to focus on playing well and getting healthy as the playoffs approach. That includes star Seimone Augustus, who has missed the past three games because of a sprained ankle but is expected to be fine once the playoffs start.

"The playoffs aren't about the best team and who has the best record and who's ranked where," Augustus said. "The playoffs are about which team is playing the best basketball at the time."

For the most part, that's been business as usual for the Lynx. Up until a week ago, the Lynx had piled up wins -- including tough victories over the likes of Los Angeles and San Antonio -- since before the Olympic break. A loss at Chicago broke the 11-game winning streak and spoke as a reminder that the talented team can't let its guard down.

"We just didn't play hard enough," Reeve said of the Chicago game. "When you have the defending champion title, the expectation is that every time you play, you play like a champion. Unfortunately for us, we find out we're human, and it was a night that we just didn't perform at that level."

When the Lynx play at the height of their ability, they pride themselves on outworking their opponent: playing hard-nosed defense, diving for loose balls, snatching offensive rebounds and getting second-chance points. But let up on that philosophy for a long enough stretch, and they become susceptible to the desperate momentum of opponents fighting for their playoff lives.

Reeve said the most important thing now is not to tweak shortcomings. It is to make certain the energy level doesn't slip.

"We understand that the playoffs is a whole other journey," Reeve said. "When the regular season ends, we just want to have that bounce in our step. And it is challenging."

And even as accomplishments are continually checked off the list, the Lynx still consider themselves a work in progress.

"There's still some work to be done, and we're looking forward to playing great basketball into the playoffs," Augustus said.

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