Practice Report: August 27, 2014

Dane Mizutani
Web Editorial Associate

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It felt like a normal practice on Wednesday afternoon. There was a clear sense of intensity at Lifetime Fitness, though that intensity wasn’t much different than most practice days throughout the season.

In fact, if the schedule didn’t show Game 1 of the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Mercury on Friday night, it’d be tough to tell the Lynx are actually amid a playoff push.

It’s not that Minnesota is taking the Mercury lightly in terms of its preparedness for the matchup. It’s just that the team has been down this road many times and it’s well aware of the task at hand. It’s also quite familiar with the opponent it’ll face.

“We know they're preparing really hard for us in the same way we're preparing for them,” coach Cheryl Reeve said.

Reeve said at this point in the season it’s less about coaches and much more about players. She admitted it’s tough to take a step back at times, though she said she knows it’s a must right now. That much was evident through her candor at practice on Wednesday.

“This time of the year it’s really about players making plays and coaches kind of just getting out of the way,” Reeve said. “Sometimes if coaches have too much time we’ll screw it up by overthink things and getting players all twisted.

“It’s really going to be about whoever … is on their game. It’s about players making plays.”

Maya Moore said it’s comforting to know that coaches are willing to take a step back at the most important juncture of the season.

“She’s so good and experienced and dedicated and she really sets us up for success,” Moore said of Reeve. “If she says go out and make a play, we’re going to go out there and make a play.”

Moore and her teammates will have a chance to make plays in a few days. That said they still have a few more days to get prepared for the matchup that’s been the talk of the WNBA for the last week — a matchup that features the two best teams in the WNBA.

Minnesota seems well aware of certain areas that need some refining before Game 1, and made those areas a point of emphasis at practice Wednesday.

“’We’ve been going hard against the practice guys and we’ve been fortunate enough to have a lot of guys to kind of simulate what we’re going to be going up against on Friday,” Seimone Augustus said. “We’ve got a 6-foot-6 guy in the middle kind of playing like Griner. We’ve got some players that can shoot it and make plays like DeWanna Bonner. We’ve got some players that even though they aren’t actually Diana Taurasi, they can pull off some of her moves. Those things will really help us come Friday.”

The Lynx will practice again Thursday afternoon before the team hops on a plane en route to Phoenix. Though it will be a big tilt on Friday, that hasn’t seemed to faze the players in the week of preparation. They’ve instead just gone to work as usual, ready for the next obstacle that comes with a playoff push.

It’s almost like players have been here before …

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