There's No Place Like Home
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The mantra is short and sweet, but it’s something the Minnesota Lynx have preached for two years and it’s led them to the WNBA’s elite.
“You win your home games, and you’re WNBA champions,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “That’s something that is really dear to us. We’ve worked for this, to put ourselves in the best position.”
The Lynx finished up their regular season schedule on Monday with an 86-79 win over Indiana in front of a sold out Target Center. They did by willing themselves back after trailing by as many as 14 in the first half—in large part due to Maya Moore’s 29-point, six 3-pointer effort—and extended their franchise-best home record to 16-1. In the past two years, regular season and playoffs included, Minnesota is a combined 37-5 at Target Center.
It’s a big reason why the Lynx spent Tuesday in Washington, D.C. meeting with President Barack Obama and celebrating their 2011 WNBA title.
So as the team finishes up its regular season with three road contests, they’re aware of the delicate line they must walk between now and the postseason. Yes, they’ve already clinched home court through the WNBA Finals, and there is no statistical advantage weighing on these outcomes.
Still, the object is to win and Minnesota is well versed in that area. They’re looking to balance their playing time between their starters and reserves in these final three games, making sure they don’t lose their competitive momentum while also making sure the team remains healthy heading into next week’s conference semifinals.
They’re assured they’ll open up at home, a place where they’re more than comfortable competing.
“Coach said it at the beginning of the season. The first thing you want to do is win your home games,” rookie forward Devereaux Peters said. “That’s something that’s on our minds, and something we take pride in.”
What makes Minnesota so successful at home? This season, the statistics show Minnesota takes seven more shots per game at home, and at 89.9 points per game the Lynx score 8.1 points per game more at home than on the road. They’re averaging 2.3 more assists per game, and they’re averaging 3.2 more offensive rebounds per game (12.7) at Target Center than they’re snagging away from home.
From a personal standpoint, the Lynx said a lot of it has to do with the type of fan support they get in Minnesota. Yes, the noise and the energy makes a difference and creates a difficult environment for the opposition that comes into Target Center.
But there’s another part to the equation. The Lynx understand how dedicated their fans are coming to their games, so they want to make sure they’re performing at a high level each night.
“Every home game, that’s who we are, that’s what we want to do for our fans,” forward Maya Moore said. “They make it so much easier for us with their energy that they bring, the excitement, the way they stay on every single game. I’m just happy we could end the regular season on the right note and set franchise history.”
Reeve said Lynx owner Glen Taylor had a goal for the team this year. Coming off a 14-3 home record a year ago, he told the club he wanted to see if Minnesota could win one more game this season.
On Monday night, the Lynx finished with two extra wins, something Reeve said she was proud to report.
“It’s nice when we can tell Mr. Taylor we were better and keep him smiling,” Reeve said. “It’s fun to win at home. When you win at home, you have a chance to have a special season.”
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