It was interesting here today at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. The Dream did their shootaround first, followed by the Lynx.
The two teams had very different vibes. The Dream seemed resigned to a difficult fate, the Lynx focused on getting the job done.
It started with Dream star Angel McCoughtry, who was clearly frustrated after the Game 2 loss. She felt the game had been too physical, more like a football game than a basketball game. Dream coach Fred Williams shared a cab with McCoughtry on the way to the airport in Minnesota the day after the game. And he spent the time trying to get his star to let go of that frustration.
“It was at about six in the morning,” Williams said. “We had a nice talk for about a half hour. I talked to her about some of the great players I’ve been around in the past, player who kept going. There is always going to be a time when you’re going to get frustrated, when things don’t go smoothly. I told her you just have to be a player who will come out and fight every game.”
And that’s something McCoughtry pledged to do. Though, to my ears, the way she talked this morning sounded a little like a concession speech.
What do you think: “I’ve always had hope, no matter what happens,” she said when asked about how this game might be different than the first two, both 25-point Lynx victories. “Hopefully our sixth man, our crowd, can help us a little bit. We’ll play hard, as usual. That’s all we can do. It’s like I told the girls, you give it 110 percent, you give it all you’ve got, at the end of the day sometimes the scoreboard may not reflect it. But that’s all you can ask for.’’
Does that sound like a player expecting to win?
Williams, meanwhile, said he didn't feel Game 2 had been overly physical.
The Lynx, meanwhile, were all business. Nobody is looking ahead to anything. Reeve has been big on keeping the team’s normal routine, which is difficult this time around. Friends and family are traveling with the team, and that can be an issue. But from the moment the team went into its video viewing session this morning, Reeve made it clear, all that stuff ends. They can watch the game, the team needs to prepare for it. “So we got a good meal, my vets, they got their massages, they did what they have to do,” Reeve said.
Reeve said she expects a very ramped-up Atlanta team. Williams is going with the big lineup he used in Game 2, with Aneika Henry starting. The Lynx are confidence in the way they defended that lineup Tuesday, but Reeve knows the Dream will bring more this time around.
“We just talked to our players about this,” she said. “When you’re on the road, and things don’t go very well, life is tough. But there is a comfort level when you come back home. … I’m certain their coaches have spent a lot of time finding what will help them have success against us. So you get rejuvenated. We expect their passion will be at the highest level we’ve seen.’’
Speaking of scoreboards, the one at this Arena – which home to a minor league hockey team called the Gwinnett Gladiators – is set up for hockey games. Maybe it will be changed by tonight, but it was listing periods instead of hockey.
Which brings us to the next subject, whether this arena – which has vast spaces behind each basket – will affect the depth perception needed to shoot the ball well.
The Lynx, to a player, said no. The Dream? “A room is a room, a court is a court a ball is a ball,” McCoughtry said.
This isn’t the Dream’s regular home court, but the game was moved here because of a scheduling conflict. So will that affect the Dream’s home-court advantage?
“It’s not our usual home venue, but home is home,” McCoughtry said. There is a Dream sign right there. This is the state of Georgia. It’s good to be back, it’s warm here. I’m glad to be back.’’
The arena, part II: Lynx star Maya Moore grew up in Gwinnett County. She went to Collins Hill High School, which is less than six miles from the Arena. She played in four state championship games in this building. She lost as a freshman, then won three straight. She also graduated in this building. On the way into the building today she was greeting ushers by their first name.
But she never expected to play here again. “I did not, I did not,” she said. “I thought the days of being In (Gwinnett Arena) were over. But I’m excited about the energy that will be here tonight.”
So who has the home court advantage?
“I’ve been able to have some special memories in this area,” she said. “
That’s about all for now. I’ll get back to you later tonight.