Scouting Report: Lynx vs. Fever
Game 1 - WNBA Finals
Web Editorial Associate
Lynx vs. Fever - 7 p.m. Target Center
Where to Watch: ESPN2
Where to Listen: 106.1 FM
They’ve been building to this point all season, and tonight, the Minnesota Lynx will kick off what’s sure to be a tough 2012 WNBA Finals best-of-five series against the Indiana Fever at 7 p.m. at Target Center.
The Lynx finished off the Los Angeles Sparks in two games to take the Western Conference title and advance to the finals. The first was an easy 94-77 win at Target Center on Oct. 4, but the second was a back-and-forth battle on Oct. 7 in which the Lynx squeaked by 80-79. Key players for Minnesota through the series were Maya Moore, who put up a pair of 20-point games, and Rebekkah Brunson, who grabbed 10 rebounds each night. Seimone Augustus had 16 and 21 points in the two contests.
The Fever, meanwhile, just completed a grueling three-game series with the Connecticut Sun to take the Eastern Conference and advance. Despite the Sun’s home-court advantage and game one victory, the Fever managed to win games two and three of the series 78-76 and 87-71, respectively. The Fever’s Katie Douglas was on fire for their first two games against Connecticut, leading her team with 27 and 24 points, but an ankle injury just five minutes into game three cut her time short. Tamika Catchings finished game one with 21 points, and in game two had 22 points and 13 rebounds. Douglas and Catchings carried much of the load in games one and two, but Indiana took a more balanced approach ones Douglas went down in the deciding game, and five Fever players score in double figures.
Regular season series
The Lynx played the Fever back-to-back in the regular season, picking up a pair of wins on Sept. 14 and 17. In the first game, a thrilling 66-64 win in Indiana, Lindsay Whalen made the winning shot, a jumper with 1.6 seconds remaining in the game. Maya Moore finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Whalen had 14 points and Devereaux Peters had 13. The Fever saw 14 points and 12 rebounds from Tamika Catchings, as well as 16 points from Briann January.
When they returned to Target Center three days later, the Lynx beat the Fever 86-79 on Maya Moore’s 29 points. They battled back from a first-half deficit, when they trailed by as many as 14 points, but they were still down by 10 well into the third quarter. The Lynx managed to tie it up going into the fourth and controlled the game from then on out, outscoring the Fever 21-14 in the final frame. Lindsay Whalen had 13 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Devereaux Peters had 10 points and seven rebounds. For Indiana, Catchings posted 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Katie Douglas had 17 points.
Key matchup: Brunson vs. Catchings
Rebekkah Brunson has really flexed her muscles this postseason, averaging a double-double (14 PPG, 11 RPG) and pulling one off in three of their five playoff games. During the second half of the regular season, she was putting up 11.4 PPG and 9.5 RPG.
Coach Cheryl Reeve noted the play of Brunson, especially during their postseason run. She said Brunson has been a huge difference-maker for the team and that, at this point, she’s the Lynx’s playoffs MVP.
While Brunson may be Minnesota’s playoffs MVP, Tamika Catchings had been in the discussion for league MVP throughout the regular season. It’s no secret that Catchings continues to be a key component of the Fever’s success, as she’s put up 16.8 PPG and grabbed 10.2 RPG through this year’s playoffs. Seimone Augustus spoke to Catchings’ explosiveness and her ability to stretch defenses thin.
“Catchings at [power forward] is always a problem for any team, and she was a problem for Connecticut in that series, because she's a natural wing player,” Augustus said. “So now you're thinking about pulling your post players away from the basket, and playing one-on-one with her is a little bit of a dilemma.”
Lindsay Whalen is still playing with a bone bruise in her left wrist. Coach Cheryl Reeve said that, since they swept the Sparks, the time off between series has been beneficial, especially for Whalen.
“It's huge for the healing process, for sure,” Reeve said. “We are still practicing, so there's still the idea of getting hit and that sort of thing, but not competing in a game situation for a week is really, really helpful to her. She's not missed a beat. The only time she missed action was the night that it happened against Seattle. Other than that, she's just been a part of everything.”
Fever coach Lin Dunn had no update on Katie Douglas’ ankle injury after their last game on Thursday, but teammate Catchings felt she’d probably play on it.
“I know we're going to the finals, and Katie's probably going to tape it up...and get ready to play in the finals, and we'll see what happens from there.”
Coach Reeve said that the Lynx are preparing for the Fever under the assumption that Douglas will be in the lineup.
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