Playing at Target Center for the first time since early September of 2019, the Lynx will host Washington on Saturday in their final preseason game.
Make that their only preseason game.
Normally this would be a time for solidifying the starting lineup and setting rotations. For a couple reasons, it won't be like that for the Lynx.
• Two starters — Napheesa Collier and Kayla McBride — are still playing in France and Turkey, respectively. They've missed camp and will miss next week's opener.
• Determined to ensure they're not banged up and are 100% ready, it's unlikely either center Sylvia Fowles or wing Aerial Powers — two other starters — will play.
• Conditioning issues have hampered camp from the start.
For all of the above reasons the team's first preseason game, in Atlanta a week ago, become more of a controlled scrimmage. Even then, players showed fatigue quickly.
"It's hard,'' Reeve said. "You'll basically have one starter from last year [on Saturday]. You'd like to start working on your lineups, your rotations, but that's not going to be possible.''
So, when asked about what she wants to see this week against the Mystics, Reeve had few individual specifics and more general ideas.
She wants to see an improvement in conditioning. And with that, more intensity.
"It's at the point now where our identity really needs to start shining through,'' she said. "So, elevating some of the details, the drills we do, why we do them, how they show up in a game. That's the biggest thing, probably.''
Reeve mentioned defense first, though the team needs work at both ends.
The Lynx struggled to slow Atlanta both on the run and in the paint in last week's game/scrimmage. Nearly a week later, Reeve still sounded unhappy about it.
"It's probably equal,'' she said, talking about need for improvement on both offense and defense. "It's just that defense gets my blood pressure up quicker because it's not that hard. Offense is a lot harder, takes a lot more time. Defense is just effort. If you're not doing it, it's because you don't want to. We want to be a team that can take that away,'' Reeve said. "So our transition D, our paint coverage, it needs to be better than last time.''
Assuming everyone is healthy, the Lynx are likely looking at a starting five of Crystal Dangerfield and Powers in the backcourt, Fowles at center, Damiris Dantas at power forward and Bridget Carleton at small forward. Rachel Banham would be the first guard off the bench, Natalie Achonwa the first post player.
Dangerfield will play good minutes Saturday, as will Carleton.
"I want Crystal to play well and lead the team,'' Reeve said.
Other than that, Saturday's game could be a good chance for players in camp to prove themselves. With first-round draft pick Rennia Davis out with a stress fracture in her right foot and McBride and Collier both being late to camp, Reeve has talked about using league-allowed emergency roster additions to tide the Lynx over. A strong game Saturday could win someone a WNBA job, at least for a while.
And then there is Saturday's homecoming. The Lynx haven't played there since the end of the 2019 season; last year's abbreviated scheduled was played in a bubble at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. Friends and family of the players and organization will be allowed in attendance.
It's a start.
"There is real excitement,'' Reeve said. "It's a first step of being back.''