Souhan: Lynx affirm they are the WNBA's best

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: October 9, 2013 - 11:55 AM

There is a catch to the Lynx’s dominance, a catch that might disappoint their fans and probably the WNBA home office.

When you’re this good, you probably won’t get to play a dramatic Game 5 at home. You may not even get to play a dramatic Game 4 on the road. With their 88-63 victory on Tuesday night at Target Center, the Lynx affirmed their status as the best team in the league by far, and with one more victory they will establish themselves as one of the best teams in league history.

One more victory will give them two WNBA titles in three seasons. One more victory would leave them undefeated in the 2013 postseason and require them to celebrate on the road. It’s a small price to pay for perfection.

“Yeah, it’s right there,’’ said forward Seimone Augustus. “We’ve got 40 more minutes, 80 most possessions to get to where we want to be and to get what we think we deserve.’’

Even her coach, Cheryl Reeve, didn’t pretend that Atlanta will determine whether the series will continue.

“We strive for that perfect game,’’ Reeve said. “We’d like to play a perfect game and close out the series.’’

Reeve noted that her team — with three Olympians (Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Maya Moore) and a former No. 1 draft pick (Janel McCarville) — is known for offensive efficiency. That was evidenced by the Lynx’s 56.9 percent shooting from the field Tuesday.

What was more impressive was the Lynx’s ability to shut down Atlanta star Angel McCoughtry, and by their ability to physically dominate an elite opponent.

Moore is one of the best basketball players in the world, yet the Lynx have won in two blowouts without Moore asserting herself offensively. She took just eight shots and scored 14 points on Tuesday. She just wasn’t needed offensively, not with Augustus scoring 20 and Whalen 14.

It’s a measure of this team’s perfectionist tendencies that Whalen, McCarville and Reeve talked more about Whalen’s seven turnovers than the fact that her early, aggressive play pushed the tempo out of Atlanta’s comfort zone and created easy shot for herself and her teammates.

“I guarantee that right now all Whalen is thinking about is, ‘I can’t turn the ball over like that,’ ” Reeve said.

McCoughtry is known for competitiveness that can segue into anger. Even she sounded like she was making a concession speech after the Lynx bounced her around like a pinball.

“You have to give credit to the Lynx,’’ she said. “They’re a very good team. They move the ball very well, they run good plays, they just break you down. Eventually, they break you down. They are very, very good.

“We still don’t want to believe it’s over. But it’s tough, playing the Lynx, you know? They’re so deep. They shoot the ball so well. But, let’s hope they don’t shoot so well on our court. That’s all we can hope for.’’

The Lynx feature international stars who play like they’re on an NHL checking line. McCoughtry couldn’t move on offense without getting hit by a forearm. She couldn’t move on defense without getting jolted by a pick, and the Lynx held Atlanta to 35.8 percent shooting from the field.

“I think the whole league would tell you that our offense is pretty good,’’ Reeve said. “We pose some challenges. I think now for the first time in a while we feel good about our defense. When our defense plays well, that fuels us, and I think that’s on display in this series.’’

Their ball movement is what attracts the eye. Moore, Augustus and Whalen can get into the paint anytime they want, but they play within the design of the offense, allowing their passing to pull defenses out of position.

Tuesday, all five of their starters had between three and five assists, and all five starters scored between 11 and 20 points. It’s beautiful basketball, and everyone at Target Center seemed to sense that it won’t be seen at Target Center again this year.

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