This is not exactly uncharted territory for the Lynx.
Having just completed a 6-0 May, with two victories over Phoenix and wins at Chicago and New York, the Lynx will take their perfect record to Target Center against Dallas Saturday night.
The Lynx, who have won three WNBA titles in five years, have had other blistering starts. They broke out of the gate 10-0 in 2012, the year after winning their first title. In 2014 the Lynx started 7-0. The Lynx haven’t lost in May since 2010.
But, at least relatively speaking, coach Cheryl Reeve might feel better about the way her team has started this season.
“For the better part of the game, we’re doing some really, really good things,” Reeve said. “And they’re really locked in on what the schemes are, both offensively and defensively. So I think, overall, we feel good.”
Health and depth are two big reasons for the fast start.
Unlike the past two seasons, the Lynx have been healthy since the start of camp, with center Sylvia Fowles and forward Maya Moore getting long rests between the end of their seasons in China and the start of training camp. Lindsay Whalen took the winter off.
And the added depth on the team, particularly at guard and center, has allowed Reeve to keep a tight lid on minutes for the team. Moore is the only Lynx playing more than 30 minutes a game. Whalen’s 22.5 minutes per game is the lowest of her career, Seimone Augustus’s 28.8 is the second lowest of hers. Fowles is playing 26.3 per game, the lowest since she was a rookie in Chicago in 2008.
That depth has allowed the Lynx to stay fresh and should pay dividends down the road.
“We look young and spry, which is good,” Reeve said.
Just as important is how the team is playing. Back in 2012, Reeve could see issues even when her team started 10-0. This time around, the lineup has clicked.
Especially on offense, where a fully integrated Fowles has created better spacing all around the court. Their 104.1 offensive rating is second in the league, as is their defensive rating. The Lynx are first in the league in shooting percentage (48.2), points off turnovers (20.7) and points on the break (14.5).
And team members insist it needs to be better.
“We can be even tighter on offense, just continue to be in sync,” Moore said. “I still think there are things we can clean up turnover-wise.”
Said Augustus: “We see a few wrinkles where we could be better. Obviously we could do a better job of closing out games.”
That has certainly been true in Minnesota’s past two wins, vs. Indiana and at New York. The Lynx outscored the Fever 29-6 in the first quarter and was up 24 early in the second half only to have Indiana cut the lead to three with 33 seconds left. In New York, the Lynx had a 28-11 first-quarter lead and led by 23 midway through the third quarter before allowing the Liberty to pull within six with 2:26 left.
Reeve would like to see more consistency on defense, and she’d like to see opponents taking more difficult shots.
But, so far, these are mainly adjustments to make rather than problems to solve. The Lynx are one of two undefeated teams so far — Los Angeles is the other — and the team has shown both balance and depth, with four players leading or tying for the lead in scoring in six games.
“We’re starting games well,” Reeve said. “We’re a team that has yet to step on the throats of our opponents. We have to make sure a 6-0 run [for opponents] doesn’t become a 10-0 run. That’s one thing we’re looking at. But, for the most part, I’ve been happy with our attention to detail, the way we’ve been trusting each other.’’