The Minnesota Lynx’s scrimmage against the Atlanta Dream last weekend was just that — a scrimmage. The first half was a pseudo game, but the third and fourth quarters were controlled situations.
It somewhat lined up with the first week of training camp, which Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said will probably go down as one of the easiest she has run in a long time.
“Because we just didn’t feel like we wanted to go zero to 100. Even with that, we still had some issues, but yeah,” Reeve said.
This preseason has been different, Reeve said. Fewer players played overseas in the offseason because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Restrictions across the world limited what players could do in terms of training. Players were coming off injuries.
“That sort of stuff that made us maybe try to guide the team a little bit differently in the beginning,” Reeve said.
It’s why the results of the scrimmage weren’t a huge surprise. Reeve said there was a stretch of three or four minutes without a whistle, and by the end of it, the play “got pretty ugly.”
So while the Lynx learned lessons from that scrimmage — namely that they need to defend better and protect the rim — last Saturday wasn’t nearly the teacher this week’s game will be. Saturday’s 1 p.m. game against Washington at Target Center will be a legitimate preseason contest.
“We need it to be a game,” Reeve said. “Absolutely, on Saturday, you should expect that everything about it will be game-like.”
Lynx guard Aerial Powers said games like Saturday — Minnesota’s final tune-up prior to its regular-season opener against Phoenix on May 14 — are “extremely important.”
“You see the dos and the don’ts, and the more we play, the more we progress, in my experience,” Powers said. “It’s so important to get that game out of the way, to see, ‘OK, did we improve from the Atlanta game?’ If we did, what were those good things, and if we didn’t, what are the things we have to work on? So yeah, it’s big to play in the next game and also carry it onto the 14th.”
Fitness will be one of Reeve’s primary focuses on Saturday. She wants to see the level of intensity her team can carry throughout the contest.
“How hard you run the floor, in both directions — transition D as well as transition, the length of time that you can handle playing at an intense level in half-court defensive situations,” Reeve said. “Ramping those things up and seeing how long you can handle that, push yourselves and let us see how we are in terms of the wind with that. Being able to sustain an effort through a possession or multiple possessions, because that’s obviously what the game is.”