The Lynx are all set to start their 2019 playoff run.
While they would rather be playing at home, winning a few single elimination games on the road in the quest to return to Target Center is a compelling narrative. The team is embracing the grind.
“I think this is fun,” said head coach Cheryl Reeve. “This is part of the journey that can make for a great story. A team like ours being on the road, picking up a couple road games and getting in the semifinals and trying to get a home game for our fans in the semis.”
The Lynx know that they can beat anyone in the league and they are playing some of their best basketball of the season, but that doesn’t mean that Wednesday’s game is a given. Far from it.
“There’s a level of play there that if we reach not many teams can beat us. But I think every team in the league can probably say that. Going into the L.A. game I thought we had good focus, good energy, but sometimes your opponent kind of sends a message and it takes a turn in a different way,” said Reeve. “If we are not highly engaged and willing to do anything to win a possession, it will be a short playoff run.”
Star center Sylvia Fowles feels the same way.
“It definitely is a confidence builder but at the end of the day we know what we have to get done,” said Fowles. “These last couple games weren’t a surprise to us because we know what we’re capable of doing. It’s just a matter of making sure everybody’s on the same page and going out and getting it done.”
Reeve said that the Lynx will need a great performance from Fowles to get the win and move on in the postseason. That’s fine by Fowles—she has been in high pressure situations in the playoffs before, and she will again.
“It’s not something that I have to get myself pumped up for because I’ve been in that position before and I know what’s needed of me to be successful,” said Fowles. “So, it’s no pressure but I totally agree with what she had to say.”
Wednesday’s game will test the Lynx in both their understanding of themselves and their understanding of the Storm. They need to play their game and trust that when they are executing their game plan to perfection it is enough to stop Seattle. The pressure is on the Storm. They are the favorites, they are at home, they are the defending champions.
The Lynx need to focus in on key areas in their defense and stay collected in their offense, but they also need to play with fire and energy. That balance will determine whether they win or lose.
Preparing the team for a playoff game is both a new challenge and extremely familiar territory for Reeve and her staff. They’ve been here before. However, they have to recognize that there are others who have not.
“We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know each other over the course of the season. Winning games along the way, doing things that people didn’t expect us to do. We’ve had some resiliency about us. When we’ve had difficult times we understand why, how to fix it,” said Reeve. “At the same time, our staff is going through this for the first time with this team so we’re teaching them how to prepare as a unit. While Sylvia, Danielle, Seimone know our way and know how we do things, there’s eight others that don’t, so we’re spending the little bit of extra time that we have. More meetings than usual, you’re singularly focused, you can’t think about anything else other than locking in the game plan against Seattle.”
The Lynx tip off at 9:00 on ESPN2.