Thursday the Lynx will host the Los Angeles Sparks. A rivalry already, it will be a game between two teams vying for the top of the WNBA standings. Having lost the first two games this season to the Sparks, the Lynx will be determined to keep alive the possibility of a season series split, a huge tiebreaker deal. A big game, nationally televised.
But first: Tuesday.
The Lynx, on a seven-game winning streak after Sunday’s victory in Dallas, host Indiana on Tuesday at Target Center. That’s last-place Indiana, a Fever team that started the season 0-10, managed a win vs. Atlanta, but has since lost six straight.
And while it seems a veteran team such as the Lynx — having recovered from a 3-6 start — wouldn’t be prone to looking past a game like this to focus on the Sparks, they are human, as coach Cheryl Reeve points out.
“But, at the same time, right now, this team is in a good place,” Reeve said. “So that’s not a big concern of mine because of the start we got off to this season. But there is no margin of error.”
During the winning streak the Lynx have the best defensive rating and best net rating in the league. Still, after using their weeklong break to get back on track, Reeve said there has been some slippage during the winning streak, something to be expected when practice days are limited. The team is in the middle of a stretch of eight games in 16 days.
The slight regression has been mostly on the offensive side, Reeve said. Against Dallas the Lynx failed to score 80 points for the first time in the winning streak and had stretches of offensive play with turnovers and poor shot selection. Part of that might be not having backup point guard Danielle Robinson, who was held out because of a sore hamstring; she remains questionable for Tuesday’s game. And the Lynx have typically won at Dallas, but have had to struggle to do so. Still …
“When you first come out of three days of work, you’re sharper,” Reeve said. “I would say we’re getting some decent work in during our shootarounds. But I would say it’s fair to say we’re not as good as when we came out of that week. Not as sharp.”
The good news is Maya Moore has pushed herself back into the MVP race, having moved into third in the league in scoring (20.4) after having scored 20 or more points in every game during the winning streak. She was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the second straight week. Center Sylvia Fowles continues to score fairly well and rebound like crazy, and Seimone Augustus has bounced back from a scoreless night to play two strong games. The timing is perfect: The top five teams in the league are within two games.
But the Lynx will have to be sharper to avoid a trap game such as Indiana. The Fever hasn’t won much, but it is a young team playing loose, Reeve said.
“Everybody gets excited to play us,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what the win total is. These are young kids who can’t wait to come in and see what they can do.”