Cheryl Reeve didn’t deny it was a good show. The Lynx coach just wished her team had been the one to write the dramatic ending to Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, won by Los Angeles on a buzzer-beating shot from Alana Beard.
Reeve already had seen an encore performance of a game she called “a head-scratcher,’’ looking at the video to catalog the shortcomings that gave the Sparks a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five series. Monday, she screened it for her team. Whether her players wanted to or not, Reeve said, they were going to watch and analyze every possession, with the goal of scripting a more polished performance in Tuesday’s Game 2 at Target Center.
The Lynx still were smarting from all the self-inflicted complications that led to Sunday’s 78-76 loss. A day later, Reeve still could not explain why a team that rolled through the semifinals was so flat-footed.She was more concerned with making sure it didn’t happen again, lest the Lynx fall into an 0-2 hole.
“I know [the players] are disappointed,’’ Reeve said. “It’s not about beating them up. It’s just more, ‘OK, if you don’t do this and this and this, the same result is going to happen.’ We want to be better.’’
Monday’s film study was the only backward glance Reeve planned to take.
Though the Lynx have been in this position before — last year, they lost Game 1 at home before beating Indiana for the WNBA title — she didn’t think that had any bearing on preparations for Tuesday’s game.
Reeve was particularly chagrined by 16 turnovers committed Sunday, which led to 18 Sparks points. The Lynx got only four points off 12 Los Angeles turnovers. The Sparks were adept at deflecting passes — something Maya Moore credited to their aggression and long reach — and forced the usually sure-handed Lynx into some damaging turnovers late in the game.
The Lynx shot 51 percent, but they had stretches when the offense slowed to the point of stagnation. On defense, Reeve said they were “undisciplined,’’ allowing the Sparks to slide through for layups. She wants to see more commitment to moving the ball and cutting to the hoop in Game 2, while Moore said her team hopes to force tougher shots and make smarter decisions.
“You have to really rely on each other in moments like this, and this team has been doing that all season,’’ said Moore, who did not score in the first half Sunday but finished with 18 points. “This is the greatest challenge of the season for us, having to bounce back from a tough loss at home. I’m confident we will be better as each game goes on.’’
Though the Sparks have only one player who has appeared in the WNBA finals — reserve center Ann Wauters — they performed with more poise and savvy than a Lynx team making its fifth trip to the finals in six years.
Guard Kristi Toliver admitted it “felt like Christmas’’ to play in the finals for the first time in her seven-year WNBA career. The Sparks’ roster, though, is filled with veterans who have played for championships in college, high school or in other pro leagues. Coach Brian Agler also has been counseling them on what to expect; he guided Seattle to the WNBA title in 2010 and coached Cleveland to two championships in the American Basketball League, a short-lived women’s pro league.
Toliver said the Sparks have been steady and cool all year. The latest evidence came Sunday, when Beard got the ball — and made the winning shot — after the team’s top two options didn’t materialize. But Toliver warned them to keep the celebration brief.
“My message as soon as we got in the locker room was, ‘Great win, but Game 2 is going to be more difficult,’ ’’ said Toliver, who had 19 points Sunday. “We’ve got to bring that same focus and intensity and be ready to make adjustments.’’