Game 3 - Post-Game Analysis
SACRAMENTO, Sept. 3 -- The Sacramento Monarchs got out to a double digit lead early and never looked back. They have taken a 2-1 lead in the 2006 WNBA Finals as the series heads to fourth game. The Monarchs got a huge lift from their crowd and stepped things up defensively after a disappointing performance in Game 2. They got strong contributions from just about everyone tonight and look to close out the the series on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN 2):
What happened: "Sacramento never changes regardless of the opponent or the score. It is amazing to me that they can go up 20 points and still hold each other to the White Line defense. For the Monarchs, it is about the team and their standards. It is not about who is scoring, who is getting the rebounds and not who is being interviewed by the press. The bottom line for Sacramento is whether or not they won the game. it's the only thing they care about."
"For Detroit, the stat of the game was turnovers. There was not a great disparity in terms of shooting percentage or rebounding. It was the turnovers. The Shock can self-destruct at times. Their 23 turnovers and 23 points off of turnovers was the difference,especially when you consider that the final margin of victory was 20 points."
What now: "If the Shock can cut their turnovers down to a respectable number, then it becomes all about who makes better decisions late and who can execute their offense. I'll take my chances with Katie Smith or Deanna Nolan taking a shot off a screen to win it. It is not about the physical for me. It's about the mental for Detroit. There is no doubt in my mind that Detroit is physically capable of winning. They have shown resiliency in the past and won with their backs against the wall. They have responded. But the difference is here that this is one of the best home arenas in the league." It's a hard place to win. Sacramento just believes in themselves here."
What happened: "Sacramento is a very tough defensive team and it forces you to make mistakes... passes you wouldn't normally want to make, bad shots, etc. Let's face facts. Detroit is not going to win any championship if the continue to average 22 turnovers per game. It is absolutely unheard of after only 15 per contest in the regular season. Deanna Nolan can create her own shot, but everyone else relies on screens and set plays to score."
To beat Sacramento's team, you have to reverse the ball and hit shots. It's been very difficult for them to do that. Even when they do create an opportunity, they are not knocking down the shots. Detroit is not showing any of the team chemistry that they had in their 25 victories and the regular season. Sacramento is averaging 92 points per game in their wins. We think of them as a defensive team, not a team that can put up those kind of numbers. The stunning thing about is that they are scoring like this against the second best defensive team this season in Detroit."
What now: "Detroit cannot turn the ball over if it wants to stay alive. They need to play as perfect a game as they have all season because there will be factors stacked against them. The crowd will be amazing again and motivate the Monarchs to intensify their pressure even more, which is so dangerous for the Shock because Sacramento can converts and score off of turnovers. Detroit is having enough trouble scoring as it is, so by not getting those extra shots, they will continue to find themselves behind."
What happened: "The turnovers killed Detroit, but it's also their mindset. Detroit came out ready to play, or at least they thought they were ready. But their frontline has let them down in the losses in the Playoffs as well as taking care of the basketball. Sacramento also continues to take advantage of points in the paint. The Monarchs get dribble penetration and kick it to their posts. DeMya Walker set the tone tonight. Tonight just showed you the balance that they have because so many people can contribute."
"Ruth Riley, the 2003 WNBA Finals M.V.P. has not shown up. Kara Braxton is up and down. Cheryl Ford led the league in rebounding and double-doubles but has not had that kind of impact. She has struggled in this series. Give credit to the defense and how Sacramento has rotated and broken these guys down."
What now: "Sacramento led the league in bench points all year long, averaging 33 ppg. There were at least a few games when they scored at least 50 points. But to do it against the best team in the league in terms of opponent's field goal percentage. In every game Detroit has lost, their opponent has shot at least 40 percent from the floor."
"I think Detroit can win Game 4, but they have to do a better job of taking the crowd out of the game. We talked about that before the game. The home crowd here has a huge impact on the way the Monarchs play as well as how the opponent plays. But Detroit is a veteran team and have been in this position before. Coming in, a lot of people picked Detroit with Katie Smith, Deanna Nolan and Cheryl Ford show a lot of heart, but Smith and Nolan need to score at least 40 points on Wednesday and get help if they want to force a Game 5."
What happened: "The two keys tonight that propelled Sacramento to victory were its defense forcing turnovers and the lift it got from its crowd. The Shock really let the game get out of hand early. The huddles got really quiet down the stretch and they definitely have to make some major adjustments. It starts with intensity, which the coaching staff has been preaching all along. A bigger part is focus. When you have athletes that Detroit has, defense should not be a problem."
What now: "The Detroit Shock are capable of winning at ARCO Arena, but it is a tough building to win in. The crowd is active and will be even more crazy on Wednesday night. The Monarchs feed off of that, but the Shock do have the talent to overcome it. It is a mental question, not a physical one. Detroit needs a third player to step up. Cheryl Ford and Swin Cash are the likely candidates, both of who are All-Stars. The tools are there, but they just have to get on the same page. They have to understand what their roles are. Not everyone can be a go-to player even though they are capable of doing that. When they are all assembled together as a cast, they are not as strong as the individual talent would lead you to believe they can be."
What happened: "Detroit lost their lost two meetings here at ARCO by a comined 73 points and they got thumped again by 20 tonight. They've now lost their last three games here by 31 points per game. In other words, what happened is what should happen based on recent history between these two teams. Beyond the numbers, I sat by the Monarchs bench and their body language is that of a winning team, they hug each other, fiving each other, cheering for every made basket, every Detroit turnover and they genuinely like each other. Conversely, on the Detroit side, we saw in-fighting, players point fingers and placing blame after mistakes, Laimbeer laying into them at every opportunity, crying to the officials. Their body language is that of a losing team."
What now: "What now? Detroit is done. When you look back at the 12 quarters in this series, they have played one good one. Other than that, it has been all Sacamento. The Shock fed off of the crowd to get over that hump in that fourth quarter in Game 2, but that crowd is now 1,700 miles away. It would be a Buster Douglas-Mike Tyson size upset if the Shock can win in Game 4."
What happened: "Sacramento showed up and Detroit did not. Just like in Games 1 and 2, the Monarchs got out to an early lead. They did not let up in Game 1, but let the Shock back in in the second half in Game 2. The Monarchs got solid contributions from its reserves, who were able to maintain and even build on the lead that Walker and Griffith created. There was no drop off in the intensity on both ends and the Shock gave in to the pressure."
What now: "In three Finals games we've seen here at ARCO, the Monarchs have not lost. Is there any reason to believe that they will lose on Wednesday? The Shock do not lose back-to-back games very often, so there's a chance they can pull it off and send everyone back to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday. That said, it is not a strong chance."