Seimone Augustus is sorry if she keeps flashing back to the past. Really, she is.
The Lynx had just dropped a second consecutive 25-point victory on the Atlanta Dream on Tuesday night at Target Center, a victory in which Augustus led the way. She scored in the paint, on the run, off picks, an efficient performance that even Dream coach Fred Williams admired.
Augustus? She still was drawing from the disappointment of 12 months ago.
“I hate to keep bringing up last year,” she said. “But it still sits in the back of your mind. I know it sits in the back of my mind. I’m just happy to be able to play good basketball after what happened last year.’’
The Lynx have been using last year’s loss to Indiana in the WNBA Finals as motivation all season — nobody more than Augustus. She was the finals MVP in 2011 when the Lynx swept Atlanta for the title. A year later just about everybody thought the Lynx would make it two in a row against the Fever. Four games and three losses later it was Indiana hoisting the trophy.
And Augustus took that hard. Still the leader of the team, she had shot 6-for-30 in the final two games of that series. That sort of thing sticks with a player.
But Augustus is well on the way to purging that experience. And so are the Lynx, who take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series into Thursday’s game with the Dream at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga.
The longest-standing member of the Lynx — she was the first overall pick in the 2006 WNBA draft — the one player still around for many of the franchise’s difficult years, is putting herself in position to possibly win another series MVP trophy.
Taking over finals
Maya Moore is the team’s leading scorer throughout the playoffs, a wonderful run in which she has averaged 20.5 points per game on 52.9 percent shooting. But in the finals, Augustus has taken another step. She has scored 39 points in two games on 18-for-27 shooting (66.7 percent) with nine rebounds, five assists and two steals.
And that’s just half of it. Against Phoenix in the Western Conference finals, Augustus was asked to guard Mercury star Diana Taurasi, who ended up shooting 10-for-35 in two games. Against Atlanta, especially Tuesday, Augustus guarded Angel McCoughtry, who is shooting 11-for-42 in the finals.
Before the playoffs started Reeve told Augustus it was her time. Look at the response.
“When we get to the playoffs it really is about her play,” Reeve said. “Because she has a gift that Maya doesn’t have, that Lindsay [Whalen] doesn’t have, which is the ability to put the ball in the hole in a one-on-one situation. When you get to the playoffs it’s about making plays. And that is right up Seimone’s alley.’’
Tuesday morning the Lynx coaches were convinced that Moore was the player headed for a big night. But when Moore struggled with her shot early, Reeve started calling one play after another for Augustus. And the Dream couldn’t stop it.
“She moves around a lot,” Williams said. “She comes off curl cuts, pot shots off the elbow. A lot of times its off their five-player sets and you can’t switch out on that. She can read the defense. She’s kind of a Reggie Miller type, able to look and see where she needs to go.’’
And get there.
“She has a killer instinct right now,” Moore said. “She’s playing with confidence, she’s tough. The moves she was making in the paint [Tuesday]? It gave us all energy. I like to watch her. She knows what she wants to do and she just does it. She knows how to play on the big stage.”
And should the Lynx finish the job, and Augustus finishes this series the way she has started it? There might be another finals MVP trophy to hoist.
“If it happens, it happens,” Augustus said. “But I just want to win the [championship] trophy. I don’t care about anything else. There are so many players in that locker room worthy of [the MVP] award I would be happy for whoever wins it.”