Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are back. And, for the first time in a great while, the Lynx are at full strength.
You could see it as practice was winding up Tuesday. The intensity level was high, the execution impressive. Heading into the playoffs, the Lynx feel like a complete team.
“A lot of energy,” Maya Moore said. “It’s fun."
And it has been a while. Augustus has been out since sustaining a left mid-foot sprain Aug. 19. Whalen was back at practice for the first time since straining her Achilles Aug. 30.
Coach Cheryl Reeve was cautiously optimistic. She expects both to be play when the Lynx open the playoffs with a home game Friday against Los Angeles. But she wants to see how the two respond to their first full workout.
But the players themselves seemed a little more confident. “I’m all in, I’m ready to go,” Augustus said. Said Whalen: “I’m just going to keep doing everything I can, icing and treatment and everything. Take it one day at a time and get ready for Friday.’’
In a season with injuries and mid-season roster changes, the Lynx will have three full days of practice together to get ready for Friday’s game. That’s enough time for everyone to get back on the same page with center Sylvia Fowles.
And, assuming both Whalen and Augustus hold up well, the Lynx enter the playoffs a very deep team.
“Lindsay, Seimone, Maya and [Rebekkah] Brunson and Sylvia [Fowles] have played together less than 50 minutes this season,” Reeve said. “So them getting as many reps as possible is important. But the other crew that’s been getting minutes, I think they’re in a good place. We have a good feel for what has to happen."
Augustus has had a frustrating, injury-filled season. She averaged 15.4 points over her first 13 games. Then she missed 10 games after having arthroscopic knee surgery. She returned to play three games, then missed the final eight after injuring her foot.
Whalen? She missed a start earlier this season after getting poked in her eye. She had been hampered by ankle bursitis and soreness in her Achilles for a while before really straining the Achilles early in the Lynx’s victory over Phoenix Aug. 30. She missed the final four games.
A silver lining? Both Whalen and Augustus got some rest while recuperating, meaning they might be pretty fresh entering the playoffs.
"Any time you sit out with injuries it’s gut-wrenching,” Augustus said. “It stabs you in the heart every time to have to see your team grind and try to pull out wins. It hurts. At the same time, it makes me proud to see we’re still the No. 1 team in the West despite all we’ve been through. It makes me have hope for the playoffs. Now that I’m back, Whalen’s back, we’re all together, we should have a fun time."
Here are a couple other practice nuggets:
--The Lynx practiced in royal blue sneakers, which was apparently Augustus’ idea. She was able to get some shoes to teammates unable to find them on their own, one reason why Whalen was practicing today in shoes that had Augustus’ number on them.
--When Reeve decided to let Maya Moore stay home and rest when the team went to Seattle to play the regular season finale, it marked the first WNBA game Moore had ever missed. “We did a great job of securing one of our first goals of being best in the West,” she said. “And we did that. So now it was time to put everything we have into beating L.A. And part of that was me getting some extra rest over the weekend.’’