Practice Report: Wednesday, Oct. 3
Web Editorial Associate
Less than 24 hours removed from a thrilling finish to their first series, the Lynx were back in the practice facility today, gearing up for the Los Angeles Sparks tomorrow night.
After all of the stress of the game's final three seconds, Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve was able to sit back and appreciate the win.
"I'm not sure if people on the outside really understood how hard of a series that was for us," Reeve said after practice. "They think it should be easy for us, and it's not. Seattle played really well and schemed really well; It was a battle. We felt very accomplished in advancing and getting to the Western Conference Finals…I enjoyed myself last night."
When asked if her unit learned anything, Reeve noted Minnesota's ability to match an opponent's style of play.
"We just know it's playoff basketball," Reeve said. "That was vintage playoff basketball, for both teams. I don't like to grind it as much as Seattle does, but we figured that if that's how we gotta play, that's how we gotta play.
"We never really got the separation we needed to make it less exciting, but it was great TV. National media thought it was a great game, and our players had fun. It's always fun when you win."
LOOKING AHEAD TO LOS ANGELES
Two very potent offenses will square off in Target Center tomorrow night, and the Lynx coaching staff is working on schemes to stop the Sparks.
"These are two of the best offensive teams in the league," Reeve said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge of stopping L.A. We know our defense can be the seperator."
When looking closer at the two teams, there are plenty of similarities.
"Both teams rebound really well," Reeve said. "Both teams like the fast breaks. There are lot of similarities, both teams are (ranked) one and two on the offensive side of things."
WNBA MVP candidate Candace Parker (17.4 points per game) is certainly a defensive focus for the Lynx, but third-year pro Kristi Toliver's name kept being brought up in post-practice conversations with the media. Assistant coach Jim Petersen noted that she's not playing under the radar anymore.
"I think a lot of people know about Kristi Toliver," coach Petersen said. "She's one of the most improved players in the league in terms of shooting the ball. She does a great job scoring at 17 points per game. She's really great in transition and great at the free throw line. She's really good at drawing contact, and she gets a lot of calls. She's very, very skilled."
Petersen also plugged veteran guard Alana Beard, a multiple-time WNBA All-Star selection.
"Their MVP since the break has been Alana Beard," Petersen said. "Lefty point guard, but she can play off-guard too. She can get all the way to the rim going left, but she's also very good going to her right. She was very skilled before all of her injuries—she just adds another dimension. When you have two point guards that are that skilled, you have your work cut out for you."
Lindsay Whalen has no plans of missing any further time in the postseason, and that relieves coach Reeve.
"I slept really well last night," Reeve joked. "The fact that Lindsay got through that game last night was really encouraging, I know she's going to be sore, but there's nothing that's going to get in her way.
"It's her left hand, and as you can see she's already got her wrap on it. I told her that if you've got a choice, keep everything on one hand. It helps her get her guide hand off the ball when she shoots it. If she gets hit, it might bother her, but we'll have to see what happens."
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