By Andrew Pearson,

SACRAMENTO, September 6, 2006 - On a day when many Americans are supposed to be relaxing in their backyards in front of the barbecue, the Monarchs and Shock treated Labor Day as any other work day, hitting the practice court in preparation for Game 4 on Wednesday night.

Katie Smith and the guards will be key for Detroit in Game 4.
Rocky Widner/NBAE/Getty Images
During a short, but relaxed Monarchs' practice, the team focused on its transition offense and defense, particularly breaking down the press off made free throws.

"We just wanted to work on some of the different stuff we thought they might do, zone presses, traps, halfcourt zones," said Coach Whisenant. "My team should be prepared to handle anything they might throw at us."

"If you look at the first game, they didn't want our four post to have 50 points, so they stacked the paint," said Whisenant. "Kara and Nicole had good days because they had good looks and they made them. In the middle game, the one we lost, they were dropping the player on Ticha off into the lane. So they guarded with Ticha's man and doubled the post, and they guarded our wings, and so we struggled. We got nine points in the last quarter. Game 3 was the opposite. They got up on our perimeter shooters, played our post players more one on one and our post players got 50 points."

Given that statement, if Detroit is going to extend this series and send it back to Joe Louis Arena, the only logical question left to ask is, what next? If you listen to Yolanda Griffith, Sacramento is yet to play its best defense, which is a scary thought considering that the Monarchs forced 23 turnovers.

The most logical change in the minds of the Monarchs is more pressure on the court from the Shock, especially considering this is win or go home for Detroit.

"They have to play all out," said Ticha Penicheiro.

Speaking of Detroit, the Shock seemed in good spirits and loose overall, holding an impromptu shooting contest prior to the start of practice. Several of the players knocked down halfcourt shots but it was Katie Smith who showed up everyone, nailing a three-quarter court heave thrown football style. However, the fun seemed to end when Coach Laimbeer closed the practice to the media, not surprising considering how he has lambasted the effort of the team thus far in the series.

"We made them watch the tape," said Laimbeer. "Their body language showed that they weren't fully there. The way they walked through alot of stuff instead of running hard through stuff. The effort put forth just wasn't enough."

In Laimbeer's mind, Game 4 comes down to how Detroit's guards are going to play, which makes sense considering how Deanna Nolan (23 points) and Katie Smith (16 points) both contributed significantly in their Game 2 victory.

"Sacramento's offense takes away the post play by denying the post pass and making it difficult," said Laimbeer. "To play them, it's a guards game. It's a wing players game. You've seen that in the series too. Our guards have scored," said Laimbeer.

Most importantly according to Laimbeer, whether or not Detroit can extend this series comes down to effort, attention to detail, intensity and a focus and drive to win.

With one more loss spelling doom for Detroit, it doesn't seem like they have much of a choice.