After the shootaround today at Target Center Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was asked what her team’s temperature was.
She paused. She might have rolled her eyes. “Of the team?,” she asked. “Do you want a number? Celsius or Fahrenheit? ‘’
Of course, Reeve knew she was basically being asked if her team was ready for Game 5 of the WNBA finals against Indiana in front of a home crowd. The game tips off tonight at Target Center at 7 p.m.
“I think what I saw from them after Game 4 (a loss in Indianapolis) was a great deal of disappointment in not playing the way we need to play to win a game in the WNBA finals,” Reeve said. “So I felt we are really focused. I think we’re ready to go. I’m sure both teams are ready to play. The extra day (between games) was good for rest. But, in some ways, sitting around is really hard.’’
After initially deciding not to hold a practice Tuesday, Reeve changed her mind. She had her team watch film. Then the team did a sort of walk-through afterward trying to iron a few things out.
Here are some things Reeve stressed:
--Getting more out of Sylvia Fowles. Fowles, who had averaged a double-double in the first three games of the series, was hampered by foul trouble in Game 4 and wound up with just five points and five rebounds.
She took just two shots. And not all of that was due to foul trouble.
“Certainly Indiana has increased focus on collapsing the paint early and often,” Reeve said. “Also, I thought, our persistency, whether it was Syl’s persistence or whether it was a guard’s persistence to throw it in there… We have to get back to understanding that every possession she has to be the first option. We play off of that.’’
Fowles had 21 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1, 21 and nine in game two. In Game 3 she had 11 and 11. And while those numbers aren’t huge, Fowles was engaged and did a good job of passing the ball back out when she was double- or triple-teamed.
Reeves believes that, especially with a team like Indiana that is determined to lock down the paint, forcing them to guard Fowles opens things up for other shooters.
--Indiana’s pressure defense. The Fever has done a good bit of picking up on defense full court from the start. But it was particularly effective in Game three, causing turnovers and getting the Lynx offense out of synch.
It was a big factor in the Fever’s win. “For sure,” Reeve said. “Their pressure and our inability to deal with it. And recognize what was open. We didn’t make ‘em pay much for their pressure.’’
That was a big part of what the team worked on Tuesday.
“It’s what they thrive on,” Maya Moore said. “We have to have, in our minds, a game plan on how we’re going to attack it. Playing basketball against their pressure is what we’re determined to do. This game, the more we see it, the more we’ll be ready for it.’’
--Reeve isn’t about to start talking about officiating, not after the ado caused by her and Indiana coach Stephanie White earlier in the series. But, after Tamika Catchings (Game 2), Moore (Game 3) and Fowles (Game 4) have been affected by foul trouble, Reeve has one hope:
“Each team has had a significant player sidelined,” she said. “So hopefully both teams play hard defense; not fouling is the goal of both teams. So, hopefully, the players get a chance to play the game, decide the game.’’