Lynx must get off to hot start in do-or-die Game 3 against Mercury

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 2, 2014 - 3:48 PM

The defending champs can’t afford to trail early in the decisive game.

There probably won’t be any surprises.

There won’t be any trick plays or exotic defensive schemes. The Lynx and the Phoenix Mercury have played each other six times this season, twice in the playoffs.

So the deciding game in the WNBA’s best-of-three Western Conference finals, which tips off at 9 p.m. Tuesday in Phoenix, comes down to this:

“I think it’s what you have inside,” Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said after the Lynx had rallied to win Game 2 on Sunday at Target Center. “It’s how much you’re willing to put on the line, what you’re willing to do, how much of your body you’re willing to sacrifice. It is not about X’s and O’s any more. ‘’

Having said all that, getting past the Mercury, on Phoenix’s home court, will not be easy. The Lynx are looking to reach the league finals for a fourth consecutive season. But the defending WNBA champions will have to play better than they did Sunday for that to happen.

There is a reason for such a feeling of calm in the Phoenix locker room after the game. The Mercury won a league-record 29 games during the regular season, going 16-1 at home. It has won two more home games so far in the playoffs.

“I think, for about 35 minutes, we were pretty good today,” Mercury star Diana Taurasi said after Sunday’s game. “We’ll just do what we do every single game, same mindset. Everybody is find in the locker room. No one was crying. I think we’ll be ready.’’

Will the Lynx? Here are some keys to what has to happen for the Lynx to win Tuesday:

• Start fast. This has not been a strength in the playoffs. The Lynx fell behind by 18 on the road in San Antonio and were down 22-9 after a quarter Sunday. In both cases Lindsay Whalen carried the team back.

But it’s harder on the road in Phoenix, which is what the Lynx found out in a Game 1 loss. A stronger start is critical.

“It would be nice,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We’ve [had slow starts] in both first quarters in this series, but we’ve hung in there. We’ll see.’’

• More depth. At this point in the season a team isn’t going to change. Having said that, the Lynx need more from someone, anyone, not named Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore.

Sunday they were the only three players to score for the Lynx in the first half. Overall, those three scored 72 of Minnesota’s 82 points. Brunson has played good defense and has rebounded well. But she needs to hit the open midrange shot. Center Janel McCarville has her hands full with Phoenix center Brittney Griner, but she needs to hit the open shot, too. Those two were a combined 2-for-8 Sunday and the bench was 1-for-8.

“Often times these games are won by X factors,” Reeve said. “Hopefully our bench can come back, maybe get us over the hump.’’

• Having said that, the Lynx stars have to be just that. Moore bounced back from a nine-point effort in Game 1 to score 32 points. Augustus bounced back with a 23-point game.

They both need to duplicate that effort and Whalen — the most consistent Lynx player in the playoffs — has to stay at a high level.

And it likely will take even more. Sunday the Lynx held their own on the boards, limited their turnovers and scored 22 points off 15 Phoenix turnovers. It will be harder to do all that on the road in front of what promises to be a rabid crowd.

“Everything is on the table,” Augustus said. “It’s just a will to win, who wants it more.’’

  • related content

  • Game 3 preview: Lynx at Phoenix

    Monday September 1, 2014

    9 p.m. at Phoenix • US Airways Center • NBA TV, 106.1 FMPreview: Minnesota’s past two playoff wins — at...

  • Seimone Augustus

  • Seimone Augustus celebrated after being fouled and knocked to the floor after tying the game late in Sunday’s game. The Lynx will need her to show up big once again in Game 3.

  • wnba western CONFERENCE finals

    Game 3: Lynx at Phoenix,

    9 tonight • Series: Tied 1-1 • TV: NBATV (106.1-FM)

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Minnesota 94 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Houston 93 FINAL
Boston 87
Portland 99 FINAL
Atlanta 105
Sacramento 90 FINAL
Cleveland 101
Toronto 127 FINAL
Brooklyn 122
Dallas 93 FINAL
Miami 72
LA Clippers 103 FINAL
New Orleans 108
Golden State 100 FINAL
Utah 110
Chicago 93 FINAL
Phoenix 99
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL(OT)
New Jersey 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Nashville 0 FINAL
Colorado 3
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Vancouver 5
Chicago 4 FINAL
Anaheim 1
Harvard 75 FINAL
Princeton 72
Quinnipiac 57 FINAL
Canisius 63
Brown 49 FINAL
Cornell 57
Siena 79 FINAL
Manhattan 87
Marist 65 FINAL
Niagara 61
Dartmouth 51 FINAL
Penn 58
Oregon 68 FINAL
Arizona State 67
Yale 63 FINAL
Columbia 59
Monmouth 60 FINAL
Fairfield 59
IUPUI 59 FINAL
Western Ill 63
Oregon State 34 FINAL
Arizona 57
Kent State 55 FINAL
Buffalo 80
Canisius 75 FINAL
Monmouth 58
Butler 67 FINAL
Providence 59
Cornell 65 FINAL
Brown 52
Columbia 47 FINAL
Yale 55
Coll of Charleston 47 FINAL
Drexel 64
Penn 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 39
Elon 60 FINAL
James Madison 89
(19) Princeton 96 FINAL
Harvard 46
(9) Florida State 82 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Siena 62
Richmond 54 FINAL
Rhode Island 50
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Southern Ill 64
Georgetown 52 FINAL
DePaul 93
Villanova 75 FINAL
Marquette 59
Wichita State 70 FINAL
Northern Iowa 51
Xavier 65 FINAL
Creighton 74
Bradley 58 FINAL
Illinois State 55
Missouri State 89 FINAL
Drake 94
Arizona 48 FINAL
Utah 62
(11) Arizona State 68 FINAL
Colorado 60

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: How should Timberwolves fans greet Kevin Love on Saturday?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close