Preview: Lynx vs. Sky
The Minnesota Lynx have just three games remaining before the playoffs, but it's not too late for coach Cheryl Reeve to make some changes.
Reeve is dealing with injuries and age as her team prepares to host the Chicago Sky on Tuesday at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
In Sunday's loss to first-place Seattle, Minnesota (17-14), which was without forward Rebekkah Brunson (concussion) and point guard Danielle Robinson (ankle sprain), began the game with Lindsay Whalen on the bench.
"We're trying to find ourselves as we head into the playoffs," Reeve said after the game. "And we're trying to find what we're going to look like."
Tanisha Wright started in place of Whalen, who came off the bench.
It was the first time since her WNBA debut 14 years ago that Whalen did not start a game in which she played.
The veteran point guard, who was rested during road wins over Chicago and Las Vegas the previous two games, supported her coach's decision.
"If it's what's best for the team, that's what I'll do," Whalen said, according to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. "I'm always going to support Coach's decision. I'll just try to have a positive impact on the team."
Whalen announced Monday that she will retire at season's end. In the spring, Whalen became the head coach at her alma mater, the University of Minnesota.
"I'm so lucky to have been a part of such a great career," Reeve said at a press conference Monday afternoon. "I feel so blessed to have been on the sidelines and had a seat to this."
"You believed in me and you believed in what I could do," Whalen replied.
Minnesota, which closes out the regular season at Connecticut on Friday and at home against Washington on Sunday, dropped to seventh place after the loss to Seattle. But the Lynx are just one game out of fourth.
The top four seeds in the WNBA playoffs receive byes for the single-elimination first round.
Minnesota star Maya Moore said her team needs to respond better to on-court adversity.
"We just have to keep pushing through the tough stretches," Moore said. "We have to be able to put together offensive and defensive combos together to get runs. You have to put scores together. We didn't do that tonight."
The Sky (11-20) were officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 82-75 loss to the Connecticut Sun on Sunday.
Chicago never recovered from a six-game losing streak in June that left it six games below .500. The Sky have experienced four skids of at least three games.
It has been a tough season for rookie Gabby Williams, who didn't taste defeat much at the University of Connecticut.
"Going from a program where we only lost a few games, winning is almost expected, and now it's hard," Williams told The UConn Blog on Sunday. "So it definitely has been a big adjustment. I think the mindset is just trying to rebuild this team."
The Sky have home-and-home matchups with the last-place Indiana Fever to wrap up the season. The finale is Sunday in Chicago.