Both players are asked to do so much. Maya Moore for the Lynx, DeWanna Bonner for Phoenix. They have to score, rebound, pass, defend, lead.
Much was made of the matchup of centers in this WNBA Western Conference semifinal between the Lynx and Mercury. Minnesota's Sylvia Fowles won Game 1, in rather decisive fashion. But just as important is the matchup of Moore and Bonner, who are facing off against each other for the third consecutive conference finals.
Both are their team's best offensive weapon. Both are their team's best defender. Both might be their team's best passer. And they spent Game 1 in each other's face, playing to something of a draw in Minnesota's 67-60 victory.
Game 2 of the best-of-three series is Sunday at 2 p.m. Who will win the matchup this time?
"It's not easy for Bonner to run around and guard Maya the way she does," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. "Maya knows there's not going to be a possession that's easy. That she'll have to work really hard just to get open. And it's the same story at the other end.''
It is uncommon to have a series where both team's best scorer and perhaps most tenacious defender are the same person. And that they guard each other for the majority of a 40-minute game.
The long, lean Bonner, with her impressive wingspan, is a difficult matchup for Moore because of Moore's combination of quickness and strength. With Phoenix star guard Diana Taurasi taking this season off, Bonner has become the Mercury's leader in scoring, assists, steals and minutes played. Reeve said Bonner has had the most efficient season of her career.
"She is a terrific defender," Reeve said of Bonner. "She takes great pride in that. And she's very determined when she plays against Maya.''
Moore? She is the team's leader in minutes, scoring and steals and is second in assists.
"We both, definitely, know the other is really good," Moore said. "And both of us want to win. Two great competitors.''
For both it can be an exhausting matchup.
"They know that once you get done with whatever possession, offense or defense, you have to turn around." Reeve said. "And if you don't have the mental focus to go onto the next play? The other player is good enough to beat you.''
In Game 1, Bonner had 21 points, five assists, three rebounds and a block.
Moore scored 19 points, had seven rebounds, two assists and a steal.
And both made it difficult for the other. Bonner shot 6-for-18 (33.3 percent), Moore 7-for-20 (35 percent).
Bonner scored eight points, including two three-pointers, as the Mercury took a 21-14 lead after one quarter. She managed just five points in the second and third quarters. But in the fourth, after Moore's three-pointer had given the Lynx a nine-point lead with 1:10 left, Bonner hit two three-pointers to trim the lead to four.
Moore? She scored 10 of her 19 points on 3-for-6 shooting in the fourth quarter.
"There are no more secrets," Moore said of the matchup. "We know each other's tendencies, what we like to do. It's just going to be about who makes plays, who is creative. But, most of all, being ourselves.''