Breaking down just how the Shock won another championship.
The Final Analysis: 2006 WNBA Finals In Review
DETROIT, Sept. 9 -- The Detroit Shock won the first ever Game 5 in WNBA Finals history. The Sacramento Monarchs got out to an early lead in both Game 5 and this series, but the Detroit Shock rose to the occasion and played their best basketball with their backs against the wall. Deanna Nolan and Katie Smith each had incredible Finals series and should share the Finals M.V.P. award. Nolan got the Shock out to a lead in the third quarter and Smith finished off the Monarchs with high 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. In the end, the Shock were just too much for the Monarchs and won their second title in four years.
What happened in Game 5: "What I saw tonight was a Detroit team that was pressed in the first half, but as has been the case in every one of their three wins, they really responded in the second half. Bill Laimbeer said this was a team that functions better on the edge. In the deciding game, the player who was most important for me in my mind was Plenette Pierson. Her ability to get to the free throw line was huge. She was physical and put pressure on Sacramento. She was stellar."
The final analysis: "They Shock were on the edge in every single game this series. There is not a better backcourt in the WNBA than Katie Smith and Deanna Nolan. Much of the conversation will center on them, and rightly so. They were the two Most Valuable Players. "
What happened in Game 5: "Detroit just came out and started defending in the second half. They started off the game turning the ball over and not defending that well. But that all changed at the start of the third quarter. That did them in. The Shock were knocking down shots all game, but they just took it to another level in that third quarter that the Monarchs just could not match."
The final analysis: "Detroit has the most talent and when they come to play, are mentally-focused and bring the enrgy, they are the best team in the WNBA. They were on paper and they just proved it on the floor."
What happened in Game 5: "Even though the Shock started out a little slow tonight, they got themselves into a great rhythm in the second half. They started to push the basketball up the floor and started running. They got the crowd back into the game and really fed off of that, which put the Monarchs back on their heels. Plus, they have Deanna Nolan. That's good enough right there."
The final analysis: "When they faced trouble, the Shock returned to the things that they returned to doing what they did best. They started to push the ball up the floor. Katie Smith did such a wonderful job of seeing people up the floor, pushing it up and making things happen and making baskets come easier for her teammates. When they got down on the defensive end, they cut off angles and prevented Sacramento from getting into their comfort zone."
What happened in Game 5: "It's what Bill Laimbeer has been saying since the beginning of the series. They had to stay focused, limit their turnovers and have a really good post presence both on the offensive end and the defensive end. He was really concerned about Sacramento getting the post position, so he wanted his team to play more physical and tougher defense."
The final analysis: "When the Shock play as well as they did in the second halves of Games 3 and 4, they are virtually unbeatable. We saw it tonight. They have so many weapons, it is scary to play against. Deanna Nolan was the M.V.P. of the Finals, but Katie Smith could easily have won the award. She had a great series. It was unbelieveable."
What happened in Game 5: "The keys to victory for the Shock were Deanna Nolan getting them off to a great start in the third quarter when they were down by eight points. They turned that into a five-point lead at the end of the quarter. Nolan was huge in that quarter, scoring ten points. But in the fourth quarter it was Katie Smith. She made huge 3-pointers when they needed them most. With 1:42 to go in a six-point game, she nailed one to put them up ninve. Then Sacramento cut it to three points, a nail-biting time, but Smith stepped up and hit another one."
The final analysis: "The Shock guards could not be contained. The defense stepped up when it needed to and the championship was theirs. Nolan and Smith just led the way all series long."
What happened in Game 5: "The Shock found themselves in the lockerroom at halftime and realized they were losing by eight points. That triggered some switch in their brains that made them take over the game. Deanna Nolan came out aggressive, but was almost forcing shots. In the third quarter, she was taking better shots and hitting like a woman possessed. Then every time the Monarchs cut the lead or made it close, Katie Smith hit a huge shot. Do not underestimate the importance of Cheryl Ford and Plenette Pierson tonight, either. They had the Monarchs' post players moving backwards, not forwards."
The final analysis: "When the Shock were on, they were on. That simple. It just took them some time during games to realize that the game had started. It's almost as if they knew they could play from behind and still win, so they saved their effort until it mattered most. When it did matter, the Shock were crazy good. All of the pieces came together in the end... Smith and Nolan scored, Ford and Cash rebounded and the bench provided the spark it needed to give to ensure a championship. In the end, it comes down to three things... the Shock are faster, bigger and stronger."