Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve knows it might sound strange, with her team having lost two straight games. But on the way home after Wednesday's 75-69 loss at New York, when asked what her main takeaway from the game was, she talked about how happy she was with her offense.
Even though the team shot 40.6% from the field. Even though the Lynx, for the fourth time in seven games this season, had more than 20 turnovers.
"We took a step," she said of her offense. "In terms of the pace of play we want to play at. I liked the shots we were getting. There were a couple bad shots here or there, but we didn't have trouble executing. We ran things at a good pace, there was good tempo. We made progress. This was our best game getting high-percentage shots since the opener against Chicago.''
That is not to say there aren't problems.
• Turnovers continue to be too frequent, and at the most inopportune moments. But Reeve has decided that obsessing on them might be counterproductive.
"It's like missed free throws," she said. "You can't keep harping on it. They know they can't turn the ball over this much."
• Reeve and her staff are sifting through ways to deal with the loss of backup power forward Jessica Shepard. On Wednesday, Reeve started rookie Napheesa Collier at small forward, moving her to the four when subbing in Karima Christmas-Kelly, whose minutes were limited Wednesday after getting poked in the eye early.
There aren't a whole lot of options. But one might be playing Alaina Coates more, either in a twin-tower scenario or as a backup behind starting center Sylvia Fowles, which would limit starting power forward Damiris Dantas' time at the five spot.
• And the defense, Wednesday, simply wasn't good enough on a night when the Lynx struggled on offense in the first half.
In particular, Reeve said, the Lynx have been going under screens too often. Against Los Angeles in a loss Saturday, the Lynx were hurt by both Riquna Williams and Chelsea Gray in that scenario. Wednesday it was Kia Nurse, who scored 26 points on 9-for-15 shooting, and made four of the Liberty's five three-pointers.
But Reeve was encouraged by the offense. She said her team was getting good looks from the start, though the Lynx shot just 12-for-41 overall and 2-for-16 on threes in the first half. In the second half, the Lynx shot 57.1% overall and made half of their 14 three-pointers, getting close to the Liberty down the stretch.
"We're trying to get better," Reeve said. "Did we make progress on offense? Yes. We'll watch the video, we'll keep learning."
Unfortunately, this work in progress has a schedule that's getting tougher. The Lynx are about to start a three-game homestand, but the first two games are against Connecticut on Friday and Las Vegas on Sunday. The Sun is the league's best team so far and the Aces are expected to contend for the title.
"We have to look at the bigger picture," Reeve said. "It will be a tough stretch of our season, but we have to keep learning, keep pointed in the right direction."