It’s probably too early to call this a showdown.
The WNBA season is just over two weeks old. Several teams — including the Minnesota Lynx — are still waiting for important players to return from playing in the EuroBasket tournament. But Sunday’s game between the Lynx and the Tulsa Shock at Target Center is significant.
Both teams are 5-1, tied for first place in the WNBA’s Western Conference. Indeed, they are the only two teams in the West with winning records.
On opening night the Lynx came back from a 16-point first-quarter deficit to beat Tulsa. Since then the Shock has gone 5-0, winning by an average of more than 14 points.
So this game is an opportunity to see where both teams are.
“We have the mind-set of collecting tiebreakers,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Because you never know how the season will work out. So it has implications, but there are still a lot of games after that to play.’’
The Lynx are coming back from a three-game road swing that began with a loss at Phoenix.
But the team won the final two games of the trip, heated up on offense as it went on and returns home feeling pretty good. Reeve said the team Tulsa will see Sunday is a far better one than the one it lost to on opening night.
One reason is the emergence of veteran center Asjha Jones, who missed the first few games of the season while having a blood deficiency treated. Jones had 12 points and five rebounds Friday in San Antonio.
Seimone Augustus, meanwhile, has rebounded from a mini-slump shooting to hit on 60 percent of her shots the past four games. As a team, the Lynx offense has clicked for six consecutive quarters after falling behind to L.A. at halftime on Tuesday.
That said, there are still some things that need to improve.
After six games Maya Moore is playing well, helping the team but struggling with her shot. The reigning MVP is shooting a career-low 37.9 percent and is just 10-for-33 on three-pointers.
“I’ve talked to her about it,” Reeve said. “Early on in the season she and [Lindsay] Whalen were pressing, trying to force their game onto the game.
“For Maya, she just needs to take more efficient shots, take what the defense gives you. In the games she has shot well, she has been persistent about getting a good shot. … This won’t be a season-long thing with Maya.’’
Whalen, meanwhile, did not have an assist in Friday’s victory over San Antonio for just the second time since she joined the team. Still, the Lynx posted a season high in shooting percentage.
“The moral of the story is that, while we work to get Maya into that groove, while Whalen gets to the top of her game, we’re covering for each other,’’ Reeve said.
It’s just been a different player on different nights. Forward Rebekkah Brunson, off to such a strong start, took a hard fall Friday after being undercut going for a rebound. She stayed in the game but has had back spasms and is listed as probable for Sunday.
Most of the rest of the team is healthy. Jones is getting stronger each game, Monica Wright returned from a calf injury to play for the first time Friday.
Moore, Augustus and Whalen are feeling good.
“Offensively we’ve gotten more efficient,” Reeve said. “We’ve had too many turnovers — and if we have too many against Tulsa there will be problems.
“But, overall, we’re running our stuff better, paying better attention to detail.’’