In re­cent seas­ons, the Lynx’s play­off seed was all but de­ter­mined by this point, coach Cheryl Reeve was con­tem­plat­ing rest­ing some play­ers and get­ting ready for the play­offs.

This year it’s a little dif­fer­ent.

A 4-5 re­cord in the nine games since Lind­say Whalen broke a fin­ger in her left hand has made things a little tight­er, add­ing pres­sure to Min­ne­so­ta’s fi­nal three games, start­ing with Wednes­day’s game at In­di­an­a.

“This is a little dif­fer­ent for us,” Reeve said. “But every jour­ney is dif­fer­ent.”

The Lynx (24-7) en­ter Wednes­day’s game with a half-game lead over Los An­ge­les (24-8), which has two games left to play. The Sparks host At­lan­ta on Fri­day and Con­nec­ti­cut on Sun­day. The Lynx fin­ish the regu­lar sea­son at home against Chi­ca­go on Fri­day and Wash­ing­ton on Sun­day. Be­cause the Sparks won the regu­lar sea­son se­ries 2-1, they would get the top seed if the teams tie.

And that means there is a very good chance the Lynx need to win out to re­tain the top seed, which would mean homecourt ad­van­tage if the two met in the finals.

So, 3-0?

Reeve won’t even be­gin think­ing that far a­head, cling­ing tight­er than ever to the “one game at a time” man­tra.

“You can’t look past that,” Reeve said. “You look at all three games and it will get over­whelm­ing. You have to lock in and con­trol what you can con­trol. All those things we like to say a­bout just look­ing at the next game is more rel­evant now than ever.”

The good news is that both In­di­an­a and Chi­ca­go are cur­rent­ly out of the play­off pic­ture, though Chi­ca­go could be play­ing for the fi­nal spot. And Wash­ing­ton could have little to play for, as far as seed­ing, as well.

Still, there is a lot of im­prove­ment Reeve needs to see if the team is going to close out the regu­lar sea­son strong. The Lynx, 20-2 with Whalen, have av­er­aged 67.4 points per game in the five loss­es this month without her. There have been times when the Lynx have strug­gled to get shots on of­fense, going into scoring slumps.

In L.A. Sun­day, Reeve was frus­trat­ed with her team’s de­fense, es­pe­cial­ly in the first half.

“It’s prob­a­bly a case where our of­fen­sive frus­tra­tion led to a lack of de­fen­sive con­nec­tiv­i­ty,” Reeve said. “You hope your de­fense can cov­er for your of­fense when it strug­gles. But in the first half Sun­day, we gave up 36 points in the paint in the first half. We came un­glued.”

Reeve wants to see bet­ter team de­fense. She has been work­ing with cen­ter Syl­vi­a Fowles on doing a bet­ter job of pass­ing out of double- and trip­le-teams. On of­fense the man­tra is doing the little things bet­ter to get open — ball fakes, foot fakes, mov­ing with­out the ball.

“No­bod­y has to do any­thing mag­nifi­cent,” Reeve said. “But we have to do the little things bet­ter.”


Reeve doesn’t know wheth­er Fowles will con­tin­ue to wear the faceguard she has sported re­cent­ly. Fowles played through a bro­ken nose earli­er this sea­son and has, ac­cord­ing to Reeve, had to have her nose X-rayed af­ter games three times. Reeve has repeatedly con­tacted the league re­gard­ing uncalled hits on Fowles.