After the Lynx had finished their first practice at Williams Arena, coach Cheryl Reeve drove back to the team’s practice facility, joined her staff in the facility’s theater and sat down to watch WNBA action to learn Tuesday’s foe.
So it was a day of discovery for the team.
The players got to know the sight lines and sounds of their upcoming playoff home. Afterward, the Lynx found out they’d be hosting the Washington Mystics in the best-of-five league semifinals starting Tuesday.
Washington, the sixth seed, went to New York and ended the third-seeded Liberty’s 10-game winning streak with a one-sided, 82-68 victory. Mystics guard Kristi Toliver hit a WNBA playoff-record nine three-pointers and scored 32 points.
“It is a team that will spread you out and shoot threes,’’ Reeve said of the Mystics, who hit 11 of those Sunday.
Not long after the Washington-New York game ended, the coaches and players reconvened for a film and strategy session focusing on Washington.
“But their coach [Mike Thibault, the WNBA’s all-time wins leader] is also persistent about them driving and getting to the foul line. That will be a key,” Reeve added.
The Mystics finished the regular season 2-6, but that didn’t stop them from beating Dallas and New York in the first two rounds, both single-elimination.
The Mystics were second in the league in three-pointers made (6.8) and third in free throws made (18.1) per game. The Lynx are the third best at preventing three-pointers and first in free throws allowed per game.
“They’re a team we just played,’’ Reeve said. “But we have an understanding that the way they’ll play is different than the last time we played ’em. And we’ve yet to face them with their full roster.’’
The Lynx beat the Mystics all three games this season, including the regular-season finals. But star forward Elena Delle Donne missed one of those games with injury and played light minutes in the third. Center Emma Meesseman missed two of those games and the Mystics were without a couple of other key players in the third game between the two.
Delle Donne finished fourth in the league in scoring (19.7), Toliver averaged 13.7 vs. Minnesota in three games, and Meesseman is capable of a big game. That’s a lot of firepower to prepare for.
“I don’t think it’s an easy choice,’’ Reeve said. “They have three players capable of scoring 25 on you. We’ll play our schemes. But we know Mike is a great coach, a great adjustment coach. He’ll adjust, so we’ll have to be ready to adjust to those adjustments.
“Bottom line: defend the three-point line, defend against the drive. But it won’t be easy.’’
Meanwhile, the Lynx players spent much of Sunday’s practice at Williams getting used to the sight lines, the elevated court and the ambience of the building, which is nearly 90 years old.
It took some getting used to.
“But, once you get going, you’re just playing,’’ said Maya Moore. “It’s not the same colors, not the same normal kind of surroundings for a home game. But having one more day here will make it more like home.’’
By the time Tuesday’s game comes, it will feel more Lynx-like. Team-specific ads will be installed, as will the team’s title banners. With the exception of the big “M” at center court — that will stay — Lynx colors will be installed around the floor, which is famously elevated.
“The elevation is what it is,’’ center Sylvia Fowles said. “We weren’t so focused on that as much as we were getting used to these rims and these baskets. Once we did that, it felt like we were at home.’’