Alanna Smith was sitting next to Natisha Hiedeman on the Lynx bench at the team's first preseason game on May 3. Both were new to the team, Smith via free agency, Hiedeman via trade. They'd known each other two, maybe three weeks.

"And [Hiedeman] goes, 'I love you guys,' " Smith said. "The regular season wasn't even started. So, the culture was set from the jump."

Smith, the center from Australia, was sitting next to Hiedeman on the Lynx podium after Monday's 90-78 victory over Dallas. It was a strange game. The Lynx were playing without Bridget Carleton against a Wings team without Arike Ogunbowale. Lynx star Napheesa Collier scored 16 points, but shot 5-for-17 from the field. Point guard Courtney Williams was 3-for-11.

But the Lynx won, securing the victory from late in the third quarter into the fourth, with Hiedeman leading the way off the bench and Smith battling Dallas' size inside. Five Lynx players scored in double figures, but nobody scored 20. Four Lynx players had steals, four had blocks, four had hit at least one three, six had multiple assists.

The Lynx are 11-3 heading into Wednesday's game against Atlanta at Target Center. They have won four in a row and seven of eight.

And, bucking the superteam concept currently in vogue in the WNBA, they've done it with one superstar in Collier, a veteran having a career year in guard Kayla McBride, and a roster filled with good, smart basketball players.

Oh, and a lot of unity.

Chemistry in sports is a nebulous topic. Most winning teams talk about having it, most losing teams talk about needing it. But which fosters the other? Does winning bring chemistry or the other way around?

Hiedeman has played on some great teams. In her first five seasons, playing for Connecticut, she went to the playoffs every year, appearing in two WNBA Finals.

"I've played on a lot of great teams, but this is something different," she said after scoring 17 points against Dallas. "I can't really explain this team chemistry that we have. It's honestly crazy. Everybody is rooting for each other, everybody cares, there are no selfish players. I've never been a part of anything like this in my whole life."

Balance and more balance

It's not all chemistry, of course. Collier is fourth in the league in scoring (21.1), third in rebounding (10.3), second in steals (2.5). McBride is first in the league in threes made per game (3.5) and three-point percentage (49.5). Her 49 threes made is the most through 14 games in WNBA history and has her on pace to hit 140 over the 40-game season, which would break the record of 128 set by New York's Sabrina Ionescu last year.

But there is also depth. Carleton, Smith and Cecilia Zandalasini are all in the top eight in three-point percentage. Smith is in the top ten in steals, blocks and shooting percentage.

The Lynx had four or more players score in double figures in eight games. Five have done it twice. The first was in a 100-86 victory over Las Vegas in which the Lynx starters became the first in league history to all score in double figures, get at least four rebounds and hit at least one three. The second one was Monday.

So the talent is there. But to coach Cheryl Reeve, it goes deeper than that. She has coached a lot of teams with great chemistry; you don't win four titles without it. Last year's team, that rebounded from an 0-6 start to make the playoffs was another example.

"This year's team has maturity with their chemistry," Reeve said. "They're smart basketball players. So I always say it's those two things. The chemistry, which comes from looking outside yourself consistently. That's your natural state. This team has naturally good people. And good basketball players. When the game gets hard, they have each other. They problem-solve together."

Full-time effort

One of the traits this Lynx team shares with past great teams is the consistent level of play. Monday against Dallas, some players struggled with their shots. The Minnesota defense wasn't at its usual level through two-plus quarters. The struggling Wings actually led the game in the third quarter.

But the Lynx eventually, with Hiedeman taking the lead, took over the game.

"We have the mindset of playing hard throughout the entire 40 minutes," said Smith, who had four fourth-quarter steals. "And we'll play hard until the very last minutes. That's what makes us so great, that we wear people down. Teams may be able to compete with us for two, three quarters. But it's a struggle to play against a team that plays super hard the entire 40 minutes."

A team has to be connected to do that.

Smith has moved around the league. There was a time when she didn't think the WNBA would work out for her, until finally getting playing time in Chicago last year. How does she assess the way Lynx players care for each other, on and off the court?

"Trust me," she said. "It's very, very rare to find."