Experience Proves Key For Lynx
Yes. Minnesota has a glutton of playoff experience as it takes aim at back-to-back titles. Yes. A majority of the current roster has been to the finals in three straight seasons. Yes. The Lynx took home their second title in three years last season with an unblemished record throughout the playoffs.
Those things considered, as the team preps for its best-of-three first-round series with the San Antonio Stars, it boasts an understandable amount of swagger.
Augustus, however, made it clear that amid that success, there is still one thing the Lynx haven’t accomplished.
“We’ve never defended a title,” she said.
And she’s absolutely right. Though this has been one of the most dominant stretches in WNBA history, the team hast yet to win back-to-back titles. In its only attempt to do so two years ago, the Indiana Fever clobbered Minnesota en route to a 3-1 series win.
A couple years later the Lynx have another prime opportunity to repeat as the 2014 Lynx Playoffs, presented by Medica, officially tip off Thursday night at Target Center.
“It’s all kind of coming together again,” Augustus said. “We’ve won a title and now we’re in a position again to and defend a title.”
Though the pressure will be amplified throughout this particular run through the playoffs, Minnesota also possesses an unprecedented amount of experience across its veteran-laced roster.
“That experience is huge,” Maya Moore said. “We want to make sure we’re all jelling at this point in the season and having been to this point in the season a few times really helps us. We know we have to walk the walk now … and knowing we’ve done it so many times, I think, it naturally gives us a confidence in each other.”
Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said she’s noticed a comfort level across the team with the playoffs a couple days away. Her players brought an added intensity to practice, she said, but it never felt like they were pressing, trying to do too much.
“It’s really helpful to have players that have been there,” Reeve said. “It really, really helps the players that haven't been there and it’s fun to see all the experience and laugh about some of the past stories and things that we’ve gone through during our previous title runs. There really is no substitute for experience.”
Minnesota also has health on its side — something that couldn’t be said for most of the season. Lynx players dropped like flies throughout the regular season slate and the team has only been at full strength for a little less than a month.
Those injuries seem to be a nonissue at the moment, though. Augustus had a great practice Tuesday afternoon and Rebekkah Brunson appears at 100 percent after she missed more than half the season as she recovered from knee surgery.
“It can’t get no worse than what it’s been like this year with everyone in and out of the lineup,” Augustus said. “I think the only thing that’s been consistent for us this year is Maya and Lindsay playing well and keeping us together. We’re just looking forward to a healthy team being there and being together.”
Moore, who has had an MVP caliber season to say the least, said she’s just excited to get the postseason underway, adding the team is ”definitely more battle tested” at this point compared to last season.
“That gives us a lot of confidence going into any situation because we know we can overcome it,” Moore said. “We know that every moment is precious, especially right now with the season close to being over, so we’re definitely going to enjoy it and put in as much as we can from now until the season is over.
As far as the chance at back-to-back titles?
“It’ll come down to what we’ve learned and the experience we’ve gained over the last three years,” Augustus said. “That’s going to be the difference that helps us do something that hasn’t been done in a long time in our league. And that is defend a title.”
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