Practice Report: Monday, July 9
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The Minnesota Lynx moved at a brisk pace during Monday’s practice at LifeTime Fitness Training Center, working on their offensive timing and schemes before hopping on their flight to Tulsa for tomorrow’s 11:30 a.m. game against the Shock.
Now in the midst of a three-game losing streak, the Lynx are looking to respond with a pair of wins against Tulsa before heading into the league’s month-long hiatus. On Monday, the squad looked focused and prepared to get back on track as soon as possible. Coach Cheryl Reeve’s message to her club was simple: Minnesota showed its ability to take over a game during its 20-4 second half run against the Connecticut Sun on Saturday, but the Lynx need to play with that same sense of urgency for 40 minutes.
But if they’re going to return to form against the Shock, they’ll need to do it with a smaller lineup. Forward Rebekkah Brunson will miss the next two games with a left calf sprain suffered during Saturday’s loss to Connecticut. She joins injured center Jess Adair (right knee) and forward Devereaux Peters (broken left hand), meaning three pivotal parts of the team’s front court are currently unavailable.
The team did sign guard/forward Julie Wojta to a week-long contract, as league rules permit a 12th roster spot if three players are unavailable.
As for filling Brunson’s spot in the starting lineup, coach Cheryl Reeve said the team will move Maya Moore from the small forward position over to the power forward slot. Guard Monica Wright will move into the small forward role—a move Reeve said isn’t a big change from the norm.
“Our perimeter players, we don’t define them as 1s and 2s and 3s. They all do the same thing,” Reeve said. “But Monnie has played the three very often for us, so that’s nothing new at the perimeter. The biggest difference is Maya won’t be at the 3 very much.”
But Brunson is more than simply the team’s starting power forward. She’s a seasoned veteran who has become a pivotal part of the team’s defensive identity. She clogs up the lane when opposing perimeter players drive to the lane and plays bruising defense against the opposition’s front court on a nightly basis.
On the stat sheet, Brunson is responsible for 11.1 points and 8.5 rebounds per game for the Lynx this season. Reeve said forward Amber Harris will be called upon to step in during the absence of Brunson, Peters and Adair.
When the team goes small, she said Minnesota will have the advantage of spreading the floor hand having a collection of ball handlers who can make things happen offensively. The drawback is their presence on the boards.
“We’re preparing for, we have to make up for the lack of some bigs,” Reeve said. “We have to play small ball, which is kind of fun. We just need to make sure we can rebound the thing. That’s the biggest area of concern.”
Minnesota is facing a Tulsa squad that is 3-13 and last in the Western Conference, but the Shock are 3-7 in their last 10 games and are coming off a 78-62 win over Washington on Sunday. The Lynx beat the Shock 93-73 on June 9 in Tulsa.
That game, the Lynx had five players who scored in double figures, including 15 from Brunson. How will Minnesota make up for her absence on Tuesday and Thursday?
“We’ll see tomorrow,” Reeve said.
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