Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said her team can match Indiana's intensity tonight in the first game of the WNBA Finals at Target Center.
“We like to think that we play pretty hard, too," she said after Saturday's practice. "So we just want to make sure that we understand that we are being ourselves and we are playing hard. And, if we don’t, Indiana’s going to, so it’s not necessarily matching Indiana as it’s being who we are every possession."
One player Reeve rarely has to worry about is power forward Rebekkah Brunson. She always plays at a fast pace. “Every day Rebekkah plays the game – she rebounds the ball and the way she approaches her business is one with great intensity," Reeve said. "She only knows one way – that’s to go full speed, and it’s been huge for us. She is very confident in scoring the ball when it’s a face-up situation and down on the block she has been very effective.
"At this point in the playoffs, she has been our MVP. We’ve had some solid performances around her, but she’s been really big for us.”
Brunson, who turns 31 in a few months, is often overlooked because of the star power on the Lynx with three Olympians: Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen.
“[Rebekkah] likes it that way – she doesn’t want me to run a play for her," Reeve said. "She is that kind of player. She’ll do her thing, she’ll go get what she is going to get. She is happy with the others doing their thing and she’ll fit in where she can.”
BRUNSON EXCITED FOR FINALS
Brunson said she is excited to be in the WNBA Finals again. “It’s somewhere that we’ve been, but this is a whole new year, a whole new season, and we had to work hard to get here," she said. "Even when playoffs started, going through Seattle and Los Angeles to get here, it was tough, so we’re excited.”
Last year the Lynx went 7-1 in the playoffs, beating San Antonio, Phoenix and Atlanta.
"We play together as a group and get everything done as a team," Brunson said. "I try to go out and play hard, be physical and get back on defense, hopefully get some rebounds, but we do it as a unit. It’s not about me or any one specific person.”
Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin will play in her 61st postseason game tonight, that is three more than anyone else in league history.
“[I bring] experience and intangibles, because I’ve been there," McWilliams-Franklin said. "Nothing really surprises me...poise, confidence... I just know that, after you have been through the whole year, there are not really a lot of surprises that are going to show up at the WNBA Finals.
"I think I am probably the calmest of anyone here in the face of something as exciting as the WNBA Finals. I think that’s what experience brings for me. And the team, I have a great feeling about everything working out no matter how bleak it looks”.
In her 14 seasons in the league, McWilliams-Franklin has played in the playoffs nine times with five different teams.
Her teams have been in the WNBA Finals five times, counting this season. Connecticut lost in the Finals in 2004 and '05. She won a title with Detroit in 2008 and with the Lynx last season.
“Now, to have a chance back-to-back to be in the Finals," Mama Taj said, "and to have an opportunity to win another championship and be the first to win back-to-back since Los Angeles, is great."
Maya Moore on being in Finals again: "We’re so close and we really love to play with each other, so I think it means that much more to us trying to repeat.”
On preparing for the Fever: "It’s pretty simple at this point, you’re just getting down to the nitty-gritty and [coach Reeve] is reminding us of what our goals are, reminding us who Indiana is and, more importantly, who we are.”
Monica Wright on her contributions to the Lynx: “I think I bring energy off the bench, a defensive advantage, energy and quickness. Hopefully, that’s what everybody else thinks too!” ... The Wright laughs at her own ad lib punch line.