Resilient Lynx Look To Bounce Back
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Coach Cheryl Reeve’ message to the Minnesota Lynx after a disappointing outing in Game 3 was clear: Winning and losing are part of the game, but it’s how a team puts losses behind them that matters.
After a 76-59 loss in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals against the Indiana Fever, pushing the Lynx to the brink of elimination, tonight’s Game 4 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse will be a strong indicator of how the Lynx are able to respond.
Meanwhile, Reeve is billing this one as a pressure game for the Fever, too.
“We want to put Indiana in a situation in Game 4—they have to win the game, they don’t want to come back to Minnesota,” Reeve said. “That’s one of the first things out of my mouth. We are going to do our best to bring them back to Minnesota.”
Game 4 is set for 7 p.m. at Bankers LIfe Fieldhouse and will be on ESPN2 and BOB 106.1 FM.
Friday’s loss in Indianapolis, which put the defending champion Lynx in a 2-1 hole in the best-of-5 series, was about as uncharacteristic as it gets for this Minnesota club. At one point the Lynx—wire to wire the top offensive team in the WNBA this season—trailed 70-33 to the defensive-minded Fever and struggled to find ways to put points on the board.
The Lynx’s starting five shot a combined 13-for-38 in the game and shared a combined plus-minus of -116 in the contest. Only Rebekkah Brunson scored in double digits, posting 12 points in the contest.
A big part of the Lynx’s woes in this series has been slow starts. In the first quarters of the three WNBA Finals games, Indiana has 60 field goals to Minnesota’s 38 and holds advantages in points in the paint (30-12), steals (13-3), fast-break points (16-3) and points off turnovers (20-8). Minnesota has 20 turnovers to Indiana’s in the three first quarters alone.
The Lynx had 18 turnovers compared to six assists in that Game 3 loss.
“We just have to be more aggressive,” Brunson said. “I think we got a little passive in the things we wanted to do. We didn’t get transition going. So I think [tonight] we are going to try and come out and get things going quick and not try to over-think anything or try to over-analyze and go out t here and play.”
Still, the Lynx are in this series for a reason. They had the best record in the WNBA this season, they’re coming off a championship from a year ago and they have a collection of talent that is filled with pressure-filled experience and known for shining in the biggest moments.
They’ve already been through one game while facing elimination this postseason—Minnesota ousted Seattle in a winner-take-all matchup in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals earlier this month.
And when it comes to responding after a loss, the Lynx have shown they’re more than capable. Minnesota hasn’t lost consecutive games since losing three straight to San Antonio, Los Angeles and Connecticut in early July.
Forward Maya Moore said the team’s toughness is critical in that equation.
“Just playing as who we are and getting back to that—that is who we’ve tried to be all season and we’ve got leaders that won’t let this team fall and get into that habit,” Moore said. “It is one game, we put ourselves in a position for an elimination game but the season isn’t over. We still have an opportunity to win and all we’re thinking about is [Game 4].”
Reeve said the Lynx are built to handle such situations because of the type of players they have on their roster.
“I feel blessed to walk in this morning and be in front of the players that I have,” Reeve said. “[We have] great leadership, great resolve, tremendous players. I like our chances.”
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