Lynx Cruise Past Dream
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The Minnesota Lynx fought for homecourt advantage throughout the 2013 regular season and they saw that pay off on Sunday night at the Target Center.
In front of 13,804 screaming fans, the Lynx came away with an 84-59 win over the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals presented by Boost Mobile.
The Lynx led 24-16 at the end of the first. The team was ignited by center Janel McCarville, who had three early assists to give the team the spark it needed. McCarville’s presence was especially valued because she came into the day not knowing if she was going to play with an injured lower back.
"She was able to focus through that so I was impressed at the warrior-nature of what she did," Reeve said. "She didn't think about it when she was out there. I'm sure that when she walked up the court she felt it. I'm sure she's feeling it right now."
Four of the five Lynx starters had a first-quarter assist. Atlanta had just three in the quarter. That led to a first quarter lead of 24-16 for the Lynx.
Maya Moore led all scorers with eight points, while Seimone Augustus and Monica Wright added six each. The Lynx shot 50 percent in the quarter.
Atlanta was led by Angel McCoughtry who had six points, but she also had two fouls in her 10 minutes of play.
That momentum carried on throughout the second quarter as well and Minnesota finished outscoring the Dream 20-9 in the second quarter. Much of that had to do with a 15-0 run the Lynx went on before Atlanta finally scored with 55.9 seconds left in the half.
Moore went into the break with a game-high 13 points while going 3-of-3 from downtown. Augustus added10 points, while Wright matched that mark.
McCoughtry led Atlanta with eight points, but was just 2-of-8 from the field and had three fouls. The difference at the half might have been the flow of the offense. It was pretty simple. Minnesota had it and Atlanta didn’t. At half, the Lynx had assisted on 14 of their 18 baskets. The Dream had just four assists at the break.
If Atlanta thought things got rough in the second, it was in for a rude awakening in the third. Led by Augustus, Wright and Moore, the Lynx jumped out to a 68-43 after the third. It started with Moore hitting a 3-pointer and ended with Augustus hitting one at the buzzer.
The Lynx shot 47.6 percent in the quarter. McCoughtry found a bit of a scoring groove, finishing with nine points in the quarter, but the star was clearly frustrated with her play.
"It happens," McCoughtry, who shot just 6-of-24 on the night, said. "Everybody has cold days... We'll get to the gym, get some shots up. We'll shoot better on Tuesday, that's for sure."
The fourth quarter consisted of Minnesota protecting its lead, while Atlanta continued to deflate.
Reeve was able to give her starters a rest, as they were all on the bench by the five minute mark in the fourth.
Moore led all scorers with 23 points, while adding seven rebounds and two steals. Wright had a Finals career-high 20 points, while adding five rebounds and three steals.
"She was amazing," Moore said of Wright. "...It was just so much energy. She lifted us just completely to another level tonight."
Augustus finished with 19 points while shooting 9-of-14 from the field.
McCoughtry led Atlanta with 17 points. Aneika Henry had 14 points and 14 rebounds off the bench, while Erike de Souza scored 10.
The Lynx are now just two wins away from securing their second WNBA Championship in three seasons, while the Dream are in jeopardy of losing their third in four seasons.
"We know that these 40 minutes have absolutely no bearing for Game 2, it will be absolutely amazing how different Game 2 will be from Game 1," Reeve said.
Lynx fans hope it ends with a 2-0 series lead for Minnesota.
Leader of the Pack: Maya Moore
Moore put on a show when the big lights were on her, not something she’s exactly new to. The former No. 1 overall pick finished with a game-high 23 points, but her greatest strength was her efficiency. She shot 10-of-16 from the field and was 3-of-5 from the 3-point line. Surprisingly, the star had zero free-throw attempts.
With 107 points this postseason, Moore has now eclipsed 100 postseason points in three straight seasons.
Wright also made a strong push for this award. It's never a bad thing for a team to have too many options, though, right?
Highlight of the Game
It might not make the top-10 on ESPN tonight, but there was a play in the second quarter that had to put a smile on Reeve’s face.
With 3:59 remaining in the first half, Wright missed a shot inside. Moore battled for position and tipped the ball to Brunson who then tipped it to Lindsay Whalen. Whalen found Augustus in the corner and the All-Star hit her patented midrange jump shot. That’s what we call team basketball, folks.
That put the Lynx up 36-23, their biggest lead of the night up to that point.
"I noted in the lockerroom right away that has got to cut in half. We've got to take 3s sometimes because they are going to pack in the paint and they leave it out there for us, but we need to get rid of that shot and take the hard two as I call it." — Dream head coach Fred Williams on his team's poor performance from the 3-point line
The Lynx will stick at home for Game 2, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday. The game will be aired on ESPN2 and BOB 106.1 FM.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.