UPDATE: Atlanta showed more fight in Game 3. But the Dream also made some curious decisions late in the fourth quarter, costing them a chance to avoid elimination in the WNBA Finals. Instead it was posts Janel McCarville (10 points and three assists) and Rebekkah Brunson (15 points and 12 rebounds) making repeated highlight plays to assure Minnesota its second championship in three years with an 86-77 road win on Thursday. Lynx F Maya Moore was named Finals MVP, “We were just too much for them,” she said. The victory parade is Monday. Washington connections in rookie PG Lindsey Moore, a former Kentwood HS star, and Lynx assistant coach Shelley Patterson, a standout PG at Washington State, were key pieces to the title run. Congrats at all…
I’m really disappointed in this WNBA Finals matchup between Minnesota and Atlanta. Not because I bought into any false hype. The pieces are there for Atlanta to avoid a sweep but it’s so disappointing to watch All-Star Angel McCoughtry attempt to do everything herself and the Dream as a whole ditch what got it to the WNBA Finals anyway.
The Storm’s one-bucket loss to the Lynx in Game 2 of the opening-round series has me convinced the only way to defeat Minnesota is to never think about scoring. Seriously. The objective should completely be on stopping the Lynx defensively. Not that it’ll be easy, but Seattle kept All-Star Seimone Augustus to 2-for-10 shooting through three quarters before she hit a killer jumper to regain the lead en route to Minnesota’s win. In fact, it was F Rebekkah Brunson who had to win Game 2 late for the Lynx. Seattle’s entire game plan was defense-first and it almost worked, holding Minnesota to 58 points. The 58-55 win remains the only competitive game Minnesota has played this postseason.
McCoughtry and crew have that capability, already forcing 20 turnovers in Game 2 on Tuesday. Instead, the lack of focus on defense is naturally allowing the Lynx to put on a show offensively — and what a jaw-dropping show they’ve displayed. The shoot-first mentality the Dream appear to have is McCoughtry going solo early in the shot clock that just creates a turnover or missed opportunity. I give you Air Maya (Moore) as an example.
Atlanta is looking more like the team that lost four games headed into the postseason than the one that started the season 10-1.
The WNBA reported a 14 percent bump in Sunday’s Game 1 viewership. I wonder if after two 25-point losses, Atlanta will draw any viewer in to see if it’ll turn it around in Game 3 to prevent being eliminated. If not, Minnesota will match Seattle’s playoff record 7-0 sweep to the 2010 championship. The Lynx (6-0) will also win its second title overall, sweeping the Dream (4-3) in the 2011 WNBA Finals.
Sigh. I expected more. Still a Minnesota championship, but more of a fight from Atlanta — especially since McCoughtry has been in this situation before. She’s 0-8 all-time in the WNBA Finals. Will Game 3 make it nine?
The matchup airs Thursday on ESPN2 at 5:30 pm (PT).
“We don’t want to believe it’s over, but it’s tough playing the Lynx, you know?” McCoughtry told reporters on Wednesday. “They’re so deep. They shoot the ball so well. Let’s hope they don’t shoot so well on our court.”
That’s going to take defense not hope.