Well, it’s not as if this is familiar territory. The Lynx are playing in their sixth WNBA finals in seven years and Sunday, for the fourth time, they lost Game 1 at home.
What a strange game.
It was 28-2 Sparks before some fans had even reached their seats. And yet the Lynx fought back to take two one-point leads in the final minute of the fourth quarter before losing 85-84 on Chelsea Gray's 14-footer with 2 seconds left.
But, ultimately, the Lynx couldn’t get defensive stops when they needed them, and they had no answer for Gray, who matched Maya Moore with 27 points, who hit two key jumpers down the stretch, including a 14-footer with 2 seconds left to give the Sparks a one-point win.
After the game was over Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve didn’t want to talk about the comeback, but about the poor play that put the team in a 26-point hole.
“I know everybody is going to talk about what a great comeback it was,’’ she said. “But that’s not the world we live in. That means absolutely nothing to us. It’s more what we did in the early part of the game that we’re focused on.’’
What happened was the Lynx started the game 1-for-11, and that slow start on offense affected the defense, which was horrible in the first seven-plus minutes.
Here are some final thoughts on the game:
--Moore was very, very good. With Rebekkah Brunson struggling and not playing much – more on that in a bit – Moore was forced to guard Sparks forward Candace Parker. She held Parker to 15 while scoring 27 herself, including 10 in the fourth quarter.
--Struggling to defend the quick Sparks, Reeve went to a small lineup that included guard Jia Perkins, who was a plus-25 (best on the team) in 28 minutes played. That said, the Lynx need Brunson for her rebounding and defense on Parker.
--I don’t think I’ve ever watched a quarter of professional basketball in which one team failed to get a rebound. The lynx were out-rebounded 13-0 in the first quarter Sunday. But they out-rebounded the Sparks 35-21 the rest of the way.
--The Lynx are going to need more out of the point guard spot than the eight points on 3-for-12 shooting that Lindsay Whalen and Renee Montgomery had.
--Also strong tonight was Seimone Augustus, who scored 19 points, and Sylvia Fowles, who had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Of those totals, 19 points and all 13 rebounds came after the first quarter.
--This was the first time in 23 games in the Cheryl Reeve era that the Lynx scored 80 points in a playoff game and lost.