With a third straight game with Indiana looming this week, the Lynx used the extra time afforded by a four-day break not to focus on Indiana — or any other team — but themselves.
"We're not even talking about Indiana,'' coach Cheryl Reeve said after practice Wednesday. "This week has been good for hitting our staples. The last two days have been all about ourselves.''
The Lynx have two more games left in the regular season. After Friday's game in Indiana the Lynx play at Washington on Sunday. At 20-10 they are in third place in the WNBA, a half-game ahead of fourth-place Seattle, a full game ahead of fifth-place Phoenix and two games behind second-place Las Vegas.
One more victory would clinch at least the fourth seed and a first-round playoff bye. Two more victories would guarantee the third seed and the right to host the lowest-seeded team to come out of the playoffs' first round.
Two Lynx wins and two losses by Las Vegas would give the Lynx the second seed and a bye into the best-of-five league semifinals.
But the four-day break gave the Lynx the ability to take a day off, then get in two good days of practice.
"We're in a good place,'' Reeve said. "That's the good news.''
But there were things to work on.
After missing two weeks with a right fibula stress reaction, Layshia Clarendon returned to practice this week and hopes to play Friday. That means re-integrating Clarendon into an starting lineup that now includes Aerial Powers. Because of injuries to both players, Clarendon and Powers have not had much on-court time together. Plus, Clarendon has to get back in sync with Sylvia Fowles, Kayla McBride and Napheesa Collier.
"We're super excited,'' Clarendon said. "It's all about coming back and peaking at the right time.''
Said Reeve: "It's about fine-tuning your play-calling. If we get to a place where Layshia can be back in there, it's getting her back up to speed; it's, 'OK, these are Powers' plays, these are Syl's, these are Phee's.' Just kind of glue it all together.''
There is still work to be done on the defensive end. The Lynx allowed Indiana to score 76 points in the paint in the past two games. Minnesota was outrebounded in one of those games and allowed a total of 19 offensive rebounds — for 23 second-chance points — in the two games.
Clarendon's return would mean Crystal Dangerfield — who has been back-and-forth in the starting lineup and the second unit –- would again be coming off the bench.
After a slow start to the season Reeve said she thought Dangerfield's play is peaking. The Lynx went 5-1 in the games Clarendon missed. Dangerfield is coming off an 11-point game vs. Indiana in which she scored nine fourth-quarter points.
"The beginning of the season was a rough time. It was a very difficult training camp for Crystal,'' Reeve said.
Entering her second season, Dangerfield was asked to expand her game. "But Crystal has cleared all of that, and she's in a better place,'' Reeve said.
One last goal? Finishing on the road with a flourish. The Lynx finished tied for the second best home record at 13-3 with the Aces (Connecticut is 14-1). But Minnesota is only 7-7 on the road.
"We're a .500 team on the road and we don't want to be when this is finished,'' Reeve said.