I know the Lynx have been trying to distance themselves from their 2012 WNBA finals loss to Indiana. That, despite the fact that it’s the same two teams and many of the same key players, this is a different series with quite different teams.
But it’s time to talk about another parallel. Like in 2012 the Lynx lost game one, then evened the series – at home – with an emotional, physical victory. And then they went to Indiana and lost both games to end the series.
In particular, it may have been Game 3 that decided the series. The Fever jumped hard on the Lynx from the start, building an 18-point halftime lead, one that grew to 32 points (70-38) at the end of the third quarter.
It was, in short, a blowout. And, really, the Lynx never recovered from it.
So, with Game 3 of this series about to start, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was asked how important it was to come out strong from the beginning in this key game.
“What we talked about is a lot of what Indiana did in our place,” Reeve said of the Fever, who came in and stole game one of the series at Target Center. “They key to winning on the road in a hostile environment is no big runs. And being able to stop the bleeding, handle the heightened energy we’re going to get from the Fever.’’
The Fever has a very good fan base. The team is expecting a crowd in excess of 15,000 tonight.
“We didn’t handle that very well last time we were in the finals with these guys,” Reeve said. “Sometimes it’s easier said than done. I know we talk about mental and physical toughness. This is where it shows itself.’’
--Neither coach is going to do any more talking about officiating. After Game 1 Reeve, talking about the need to get Lindsay Whalen going, talked about how Whalen had spent the season not getting the calls at the hoop that she had for much of her career. Many misinterpreted this as an attack on the officiating in Game 1, though it really wasn’t. Nonetheless, Indiana coach Stephanie White went off on the officiating after Game 2, after her star, Tamika Catchings, was in foul trouble throughout the game. Well, both coaches were warned by the league, but neither was fined. And I don’t expect much comment on officiating going forward.
--It’s interesting that both Reeve and White don’t think their teams have played their best yet in this series.
First White: “We have to be disciplined. I feel like, in each of the last two games, we started with a high energy level. But our focus (after that) has kind of been all over the place. Our attention to detail on rebounding, our attention to detail on defense, it has to be at an all-time high.’’
Now, Reeve: “We haven’t been the best of us yet. Hopefully we’re able to do that before the end of these 200 minutes. That would give us our best chance to be successful.’’
--I expect to see a good bit more of the small lineup from the Lynx tonight, the one that has Anna Cruz and Renee Montgomery at guard, Seimone Augustus at small forward, Maya Moore at power forward and Sylvia Fowles at center. On the offensive end, that lineup gave the Lynx good spacing and made it difficult to collapse in on Fowles. On defense, Cruz and Montgomery were key in forcing 14 second-half Fever turnovers.
“They’re quicker, they bring more defensive pressure, so they take you out of what you want to do on the offensive end,” White said. “We have to play ‘em a few different ways.’’
--One final note: Reeve is a big believer in the law of averages. And that law, to her, suggests that Augustus is due for a big game after scoring
“We believe in corrections,” Reeve said of Augustus, who has scored just 20 points on 8-for-25 shooting in two games. “And we believe we’re due for a correction.’’
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you after the game.