Thursday Practice Report
Minnesota's fast start seems a distant memory now that the team has passed the half-way point. With the conferences tightening up and teams eying playoff positioning down the stretch run, the Lynx will look to turn it around entering the final month and a half of the season.
They certainly will be happy to see the month of July end. Minnesota has gone 3-5 in July after entering the month 7-3 and seemingly coasting to a top record in the Western Conference. The Lynx enter their game against the defending champion Shock on Friday night only one game ahead of the Silver Stars for third place in the Western Conference and 3.5 games ahead of the Sparks for a spot in the postseason.
Another inconsistent month could make for an interesting fight for the postseason for Minnesota.
Much of practice the last two days has been working on things the team struggled with in Tuesday's loss to Los Angeles. Guard Rashanda McCants said the team does not necessarily look at losses as the revealing of problems the Lynx need to fix. McCants said the team needs to come in the next game and play better and not take anyone lightly.
Especially against a team like Detroit, a team that is struggling at 5-9 and in last place in the Eastern Conference, Minnesota has to be guarded from taking the defending champions lightly.
"You've just got to go in and play," McCants said. "For me, no game is different. I go in with the same mentality. They're professionals. They're all stars. They're going to be up for each game they play, they're just not winning right now. Just have to go in there and play and try to win." The Lynx have slipped back a bit to the pack in the Western Conference. McCants said for Minnesota to achieve its goal, it has to rediscover that consistency it had at the beginning of the season.
But the the team still has a long way to go before it starts following the standings every day. Coach Jen Gillom knows there is plenty of games left in the season.
"We have made some changes," Gillom said. "I think that once that change settles in, I think we can get that consistency back. It will take a little time. I don’t think it will take a long time – maybe a game or two – but I think we’ll get back to where we were before.”
Part of the precautions the Lynx have made to gear up for a playoff run is staying cautious with guard Candice Wiggins, who has been nursing a sore right knee the last few practices. Wiggins had her right knee drained -- the same knee she had offseason surgery on for a torn lateral miniscus -- before Tuesday's game against the Sparks.
She also sat out parts of practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Gillom said she would monitor her minutes during the next few games to make sure the problem does not get worse.
Even before the injury, Minnesota certainly has some troubling elements to correct.
On top of winning just three games in July so far, the team is also struggling at home. The Lynx are an even 5-5 at the Target Center. They also have not won consecutive games since the final two games of June -- against the Mercury and the Dream.
Gillom said she cannot figure out what has caused the struggles at home. Part of it may be her putting too much emphasis on winning at home to the team. Gillom said she cannot figure out why the team has such a discrepancy between its home play and its road play -- Minnesota is 5-3 on the road. She said she has a theory and this weekend's games at Detroit on Friday and back home against Phoenix on Saturday should be a good test for the Lynx.
She also said that same overemphasis on the playoffs might be leading to the team's recent slide.
"I think that could be a little bit of our problem as well," Gillom said. "Too much emphasis on (making the playoffs). Take it away, let them play like they were playing at the beginning of the season and not focus so much on thinking playoffs. Just play one game at a time and let what happens happen.”
Jen Gillom Audio
Jen Gillom is having a hard time figuring out why the team is struggling at home while finding lots of success on the road.
Rashanda McCants Audio
Rashanda McCants said the team cannot take anyone lightly down the stretch and continue to work to improve down the stretch.
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