The Sylvia Fowles- Brittney Griner matchup is the one that got all the attention in this Lynx-Phoenix Western Conference finals. The two teams will tip off in about 45 minutes here at Target Center.
But here’s another key matchup to watch:
Maya Moore vs. DeWanna Bonner.
Bonner has always been a thorn in the Lynx’s side. She enters this series having averaged 18.2 points in five games vs. the Lynx this season.
“She’s very challenging,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said of Bonner, a long, lean, athletic 6-4 forward. “And she is a terrific defender. She takes great pride in that. And she’s very determined when she plays against Maya.’’
That goes both ways.
“I think (Moore) has learned a lot,” Reeve said. “I think she’d tell you after kind of getting schooled, so to speak, I think she’s learned a lot (about guarding Bonner). We’ll see.’’
To Reeve, Bonner is having her best season. Her 15.8 points-per-game average is the second-highest of her career, and Reeve things Bonner has been her most efficient while picking up some of the scoring and leadership slack left by Diana Taurasi’s decision not to play this season.
“She’s one of their leading assist players , and she can use her ability to shoot the three to get you up out of your stance,” Reeve said. “And she has the ability to cross you over, go up and under, and get to the foul line.’’
Moore, though, is coming off a very strong defensive series against Phoenix, when she was asked to guard Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike.
After averaging 16.5 points and 7.3 rebounds during the regular season, Moore held Ogwumike to 11.7 and 4.3 in the three-game Western Conference semifinals. And Moore did this while averaging 26.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists in those games.
“Maya was so disciplined in that L.A. series,” Reeve said. “So disciplined. She had to turn off and dial down some things she likes to do, that if she were to do – which is gambling – Nneka would go behind her for layups. Maya was committed to not doing that. ‘’
And now Moore has the job of slowing Bonner.
Meanwhile, Reeve was asked if the issue of rest – or the lack thereof – would have an impact on this game. The Mercury finished off their series with Tulsa last Saturday, while the Lynx had to play a third game vs. L.A. on Tuesday.
“New York played a back-to-back and it didn’t have that much effect,” Reeve said of the Liberty, which opened its Eastern Conference finals vs. Tulsa with a win Wednesday, a day after closing out Washington in the conference semifinals. “As coaches, if you have time off you say it’s really good to get rest. If you don’t, you say it’s good that you have rhythm. So, we got rhythm, I guess.”