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Cheryl Reeve knows Lynx are last in WNBA standings because they’re last in defense

That was the primary focus of Monday’s practice — a needed day of work to shore up what Reeve identified as slippage on the defensive end

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It’s not hard for Minnesota Lynx coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve to identify why exactly her team is currently at the bottom of the WNBA standings heading into Tuesday’s home tilt with New York.

Minnesota is last in the WNBA in defensive efficiency, allowing 108.7 points per 100 possessions.

“They go hand in hand,” Reeve said of that number and the team’s 1-6 record.

So often, the culprit for Minnesota is one particularly bad quarter. In its loss Saturday to Dallas, it was the third quarter. In those 10 minutes, the Wings sported an offensive rating of 200 — meaning they averaged two points per every trip down the floor. That’s about as bad as you can be defensively.

Similar quarter-long meltdowns have occurred in losses to Las Vegas, Indiana and Seattle.

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“It’s historically bad,” Reeve said. “This is not like once in seven games this happened. The number of times we’ve given up that level of, just fall apart … that’s what we’re working on. That’s what we’re hoping to do better with.”

That was the primary focus of Monday’s practice — a needed day of work to shore up what Reeve identified as slippage on the defensive end over the team’s recent road trip that featured only travel days between games.

But what’s concerning to Reeve is the primary struggles have come in effort departments. It’s rebounding and transition defense. Minnesota isn’t good at either. So often those categories are determined by will. That’s why the coach has questioned whether her team has enough of that.

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The 2023 season will feature a league-record 40 regular-season games through Sept. 10.
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Reeve’s teams have won an WNBA-record 281 games since 2010, and her 41 career playoff victories are the most in WNBA history, as well.
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With the franchise’s cornerstone player — Sylvia Fowles — now heading into retirement, what’s the team’s path back to the postseason in 2023?
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Fowles finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds for her WNBA-best 193rd career double-double.
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Fowles may have played her last game at Target Center on Friday
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Minnesota has won 20 of 23 regular-season games against Phoenix since August 2015, including 10 straight in Arizona.
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The Lynx now sit in 11th place in the 12-team league, 1½ games behind Atlanta, New York and Phoenix who are tied for seventh. Minnesota has four games left, three against teams that would currently be in the playoffs.
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The Lynx (11-19) are now 1 1/2 games behind the Dream but the Phoenix Mercury (12-16 entering Thursday) and New York Liberty (12-17) are also in contention.
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Minnesota shot 42.9 percent from the floor and were 6 of 13 from behind the arc

“And that’s what we’re trying to find out. That’s what we said, ‘Hey, if you don’t have it, it’s really going to show itself, and you’re probably not going to have a job,'” Reeve said. “People lose jobs when you don’t do your job. That’s just how it works. I don’t want to be in that situation. I want this team to understand. … We’re not understanding the impact of our lack of passion for what we’re doing. We’re so pedestrian in so many elements of what we do. We’re just out there. And you can’t win like that.”

At any level.

“It’s not that you have to do extraordinary things. You do ordinary things very well, at a high level, passionately,” Reeve said. “And we lack passion a lot. And so, I always do that, where I look around individually and go, ‘OK, who is it? Who is not passionate about what they do?’ And I have a hard time finding people who aren’t passionate about what they do. They love the game. But they’re not performing passionately, with their teammates.”

The good news for Minnesota was Reeve thought the Lynx took a step in the right direction in Monday’s practice.

“It doesn’t matter, though,” Lynx guard Aerial Powers said. “We have to play and do the right things (Tuesday).”

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