Shootaround Access: Lynx vs. Sparks
Game 1 - Western Conference Finals
Web Editorial Associate
With Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tonight against Los Angeles, Minnesota made sure to get as much as they could into today's shootaround.
"It's a little bit of a cram session for our players," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "But they did a great job yesterday of being able to turn around and be ready. We got through some really good stuff yesterday and had a quality shootaround; they're excited to turn around and play again tonight."
And just like preparing for any academic quiz, the Lynx studied what they'll be tested on.
"We know a little more about them," guard Seimone Augustus said. "We had a day of preparation as far as going over schemes; it's sort of the same team, but they're more aggressive on the offensive end. They've got scorers that are very lethal in transition, 3-point shooters that are lethal, so we've got to defend tonight."
Just like the last series, the Lynx are hoping to obtain a lead from the first game and use their home court advantage to its fullest.
"Home court advantage is just that," Augustus said. "You've got to protect your home floor. We know they're going to come in and try to steal one here to put us in a pressure situation—It's hard to play in LA. We don't want to be in a 0-1 situation; we want to be up one and put the pressure on them."
LOS ANGELES' STARTERS
Part of the Lynx' gameplan is to contain the Sparks' starting five. Where other teams might rely on their bench to provide a boost, Los Angeles has an extremely potent first group.
"Most of their points come from their starters," Augustus said of tonight's opponent. "I'm not saying that their bench can't come in and produce, but a lot of their minutes and a lot of their points go into their starting five. So getting them into foul trouble, getting them fatigued or whatever it may be, we're going to try and do it tonight."
Between WNBA Most Improved Player Kristi Tolliver and multiple-time All-Star Alana Beard, the Lynx backcourt will have their hands full.
"Everybody knows Candace Parker is the go-to player on that team, and Kristi Toliver is a close second behind her," Augustus said. "But Alana brings that other side, the defensive tenacity. Offensively she's found her step. She's found herself in their offensive scheme, and we've got to contain her. "
Coach Reeve didn't want to overlook Parker. The WNBA MVP candidate brings a unique matchup, and her abilities on the fast break are concerning.
"I believe this series will be more possessions available, more scoring," Reeve commented. "Hopefully not more scoring on us, we've got to be really good defensively. This team can really put the ball in the hole. They're a fast break team; Candace Parker is like LeBron James in terms of taking the ball off the backboard and going end-to-end. Once she gets a head of steam, it's really difficult to challenge her. We've got to be really good there. They're going to push pace, we're going to push pace, and I think it will look a lot different than the Seattle series."
Lindsay Whalen had her wrist wrapped in black tape at today's shootaround, and the team is optimistic about her contributions.
"She's a tough cookie," coach Reeve said. "She's going to play tonight, and she's dealng with the hand injury. She said if she can go out and play, she's going to do what she can to try and help the team.
"I don't know if she knows just yet what she's able to do… She'll find that out in the course of the game. Adrenaline does take over. Once you get in the game, you're just playing. Maybe after the game she'll be sore, but if she's on the court, I'm certain she's not thinking about it. She's tough. Like I always said, she's a hockey player playing basketball."
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