The Lynx defense is still a work in progress.
Actually, to be honest, it's been a lot of work without enough progress, the latest example being Sunday's loss in Chicago in a game the Lynx made nearly 59% of their shots.
That means, at least for now, if the Lynx are going to win games, it will have to come from them outscoring teams rather than them holding teams down with defense. Even if that reality is frustrating for coach Cheryl Reeve, whose team plays host to Dallas on Tuesday night.
Over the past six games, the Lynx have the second-best offensive rating in the league at 109.2. The stretch began with center Sylvia Fowles missing games because of a cartilage injury in her right knee, and the Lynx have used a more spread-out approach.
Now, Reeve will ask: How many of those six games have the Lynx won?
But they have won two of their past three. Over the past six games, the Lynx are first in the WNBA in shooting percentage (49.4), second in assists per game (24.7), and have averaged 87.2 points (third).
"It's more familiarity, I think," Reeve said. "We're settling in, focusing on what we're good at with the play calling."
Point guard Moriah Jefferson, signed after the season was underway, has grown more comfortable in the offense, too. She had a more difficult game Sunday at Chicago, one that prompted Reeve to go with a lineup that didn't include a point guard late in the game, one that erased an 11-point deficit in a game the Lynx lost at the buzzer.
But, generally, Jefferson has been very good in the pick and roll.
"And she is getting good penetration," Reeve said.
The play of the posts is getting better, too. While Fowles was recovering, Jessica Shepard — who was already having a strong season — took a step up. In the past six games, she has averaged 12.2 points and 9.7 rebounds. In three games since returning from a hamstring injury, Natalie Achonwa has averaged 9.3 points coming off the bench.
Damiris Dantas, still working into top shape after missing nearly a year because of a foot injury, has been up and down. But she contributed to two victories over Phoenix last week.
With Dantas back in the starting lineup, Shepard and Achonwa have given the Lynx one of the league's better benches, averaging better than 30 points a game over the past six.
Without Fowles in the lineup, with the return of Dantas and Achonwa, the Lynx went to the high-post, spread look that they featured in the WNBA bubble in Florida in the 2020 season. With Fowles missing all but a handful of games, the Lynx were third in the league in offensive rating that season.
What is interesting is the Lynx have been able to keep running that style of offense even with Fowles' return. She is playing with a minutes limit, of course. But even when Fowles is in the game, the Lynx have done a better job of taking advantage of the attention paid to her by creating opportunities for other players.
This is something the team has struggled with in the past, trying to force the ball into Fowles even when she was double- or triple-teamed, which tended to slow the offense down.
Why has that changed?
"I don't know if I know the answer to that," Reeve said. "I suspect it has something to do with play-calling. We've been getting some things out of time outs. But mostly, when she scores, it's just her working for it, not because we've stagnated the offense trying to run things through her."
Three-point attempts and makes are up in recent games, as are assists, a key stat when tracking effective ball movement.
And here's one last thing: The Lynx are starting to make open shots. "At the beginning of the year, we had multiple players shooting historically [poorly]," Reeve said. "We're in a bit of a regression to the mean on some of those."