Olympic break boosts WNBA teams in East

Minnesota's Taj McWilliams-Franklin runs on the court during

Minnesota's Taj McWilliams-Franklin runs on the court during a WNBA game. (June 23, 2012) Photo Credit: AP

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The Olympic break does a lot of things for a lot of teams in the WNBA. In fact, most veterans are happy to get a month off during the season.

"[Veterans] love the break," said Minnesota Lynx forward Taj McWilliams-Franklin. "The first seven days we had off, we were relaxing."

It's not all fun and games, though. McWilliams-Franklin, who describes herself as a basketball junkie, spent part of the break watching video of games played and of upcoming opponents.

The most important aspect of the break is seeing improvement. The time off gives teams to work on their offense and to get healthy.

Chicago Sky center Ruth Riley is convinced the break will help her squad snap a four-game losing streak and hold on to the final playoff berth in the East. The Sky's leading scorer, Epiphanny Prince (23.3 ppg), has missed the last eight games. The Murry Bergtraum High School graduate is scheduled to make her return to the lineup on Friday when the Sky (8-9) hosts Atlanta.

"It's a blessing for us to have a month for her to rehab," said Riley. "It was a blessing for a team like us [because] we had a lot of injuries."

Connecticut Sun guard Kara Lawson has been impressed with her squad's growth and believes the month off will help the team come together even more.

"I like where we ended at the break, for sure," said Lawson. "We've made some huge strides, probably bigger strides from year two to year three than from the first year to the second year."

The Sun (15-4) won their last five and is in first place in the East.

The WNBA resumes play on Thursday with four games, including the Liberty, who host the Sun at 7 p.m. at the Prudential Center in Newark.

The Liberty (6-12) sits 2.5 games behind Chicago for the final playoff berth in the East.

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