Shootaround Access: Lynx vs. Storm
Game 1 - Western Conference Semis
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It’s been five days since the Minnesota Lynx played their final regular season game in San Antonio, and during that timeframe the team had time to re-evaluate what it needed to work on heading into tonight’s Western Conference Semifinal Game 1 matchup against the Seattle Storm.
The biggest key? Tightening up their defense against a Storm squad known for slowing the game down and using every bit of the shot clock.
“We have a team where we’re always going to be able to score,” forward Rebekkah Brunson said. “I think we’ll always be able to score. But we have to be locked in defensively and know what we’re going to do, know what position we need to be in and know how we can help each other. So we had to come in and kind of work on that.”
When the Lynx and Storm meet tonight at 8 p.m. on ESPN2 and BOB 106.1 FM, they’ll face a Seattle club they beat three out of four times during the regular season. But the playoffs are different, and this Storm squad headlined by Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson is just two years removed from its 2010 WNBA championship.
The Lynx’s key to winning this series will depend heavily on building defensive intensity and finding a way to speed up the game. That and being crisp in everything they do.
“It’s always about doing the things that have gotten you to that spot,” center Taj McWilliams-Franklin said. “Not trying to over-think the game or overanalyze. But sharpen what you do well. Instead of passing and loosely cutting, cutting hard. Instead of setting a soft screen, screening harder.”
McWilliams-Franklin said she’s been familiar with Seattle coach Brian Agler’s philosophy since her days playing in the American Basketball League in the 1990s, and he’s going to have his team prepped to do everything it can to disrupt the Lynx on the offensive end.
“For him like it so for us it’s about sharpening your team and the skills your team uses to get to the playoffs,” she said. “It’s nothing new or exciting. Same old defensive ferocity, same offense. Maybe tweaking a few things to put yourself in position to win.”
McWilliams-Franklin said she expects a Seattle team that will be scrappy and tough. That’s the way the Storm will need to compete against this potent Lynx offense. During Minnesota’s three wins this season against Seattle, the Lynx outscored the Storm by an average of 83.0-66.3. In Seattle’s win on June 17, which ended Minnesota’s 10-game winning streak to start the season, the Storm won 65-62.
Brunson said the key is being tough defensively and understanding how Seattle will approach both ends of the floor.
“We have to have some patience and know their defensive strengths as well,” Brunson said. “We know what we’re going to do and how they’re going to try to stop us. So we have to figure out a way to counter that. I think we’re ready.”
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