It’s right there, so close, within reach, Seimone Augustus said.
Augustus was sitting at the podium, with what looked like 50 pounds of ice strapped to different parts of her body. She was tired, sore.
She had just scored 20 points and dished three assists. She had taken the lead on defending Atlanta star Angel McCoughtry, whose WNBA Finals experience continues to spiral downward. Augustus and her Lynx teammates had just put an 88-63 beating on the Dream at Target Center to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, their second consecutive 25-point thumping of Atlanta.
And it was right there.
“We have 40 more minutes, 80 more possessions to get to where we want to be,” Augustus said, “and get what we feel like we deserve.”
On a night in which they were far from perfect — witness the 20 turnovers they committed — the Lynx once again proved to be a team nearly impossible to stop. All five starters scored in double figures. All five of them had three or more assists. The ball movement was hypnotic, their defense stout.
The result: A WNBA Finals-record 56.9 percent shooting night at one end, and further frustration from the Dream at the other.
And a championship — Minnesota’s second in three seasons — is so close.
Atlanta, in the finals for the third time in four years, is still looking for its first victory there (0-8). The Lynx are in position for a sweep in Thursday’s game in the Atlanta area. They improved to 13-2 all-time in home playoff games and are in position to finish these playoffs with a perfect record.
“We feel we have the best offensive team in the league,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “And one of the best defensive teams. I want to add a label. I think we have the smartest team in the league, when it comes to maturity and experience.”
Who’s to argue? This one was over when the Lynx used a 12-2 first-quarter run to pretty much take control for good.
Atlanta coach Fred Williams started a bigger lineup, moving Aneika Henry in for Tiffany Hayes with the idea of getting more points in the paint and freeing up McCoughtry. The result: Minnesota allowed only 26 points in the paint and outrebounded the Dream 40-22.
And McCoughtry shot 5-for-18 in scoring 15 points, turned the ball over twice and ultimately fouled out. Time after time she dribbled into the lane only to be met with a wall of defenders. Afterward, McCoughtry fumed in the Dream locker room.
“I’m very frustrated,” said McCoughtry, 11-for-42 shooting in two finals games. “I don’t feel like I played in a basketball game. I feel I was in a football match. … I don’t need to be grabbed and pushed to the ground. My elbow is aching right now. I shouldn’t feel like that. I should feel like I played some basketball.”
To which Augustus said: “Then don’t play in the WNBA Finals.”
The Lynx sure are. They’re playing with a purpose. As a result, the title is within reach, right there, one victory away.
“When we pass like that, when we share the ball, you can’t stop us,” said Maya Moore, who had 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists and a block. “We have too many weapons.”
Atlanta players know that all too well. Asked what the Dream could do, McCoughtry basically said they’d count on the Lynx not shooting as well away from Target Center.