Lynx Are Champions Again, Sweep Dream 3-0
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Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve told her team that they wouldn’t be going back to Minneapolis for a Game 5. They would be going back for a championship parade.
After Thursday night’s 84-76 win over the Atlanta Dream, she proved to be right.
An unexpected star got the Lynx off to a hot start, scoring six of her teams first eight points. That player was center Janel McCarville who is known for doing everything but scoring. It looked like it would be easy for the Lynx to keep the momentum as the Dream didn’t have very many fans in their makeshift home court. The exact total of fans were not counted by the end of the game. Due to scheduling conflicts, Atlanta had to move its gameme from Philips Arena to the Gwinnett Center.
Atlanta switched up its lineup, though, and rallied back behind not Angel McCoughtry, but instead Erika de Souza, who had eight of her team’s first 17 points. It looked like the Dream was going to make a run, as it trailed just 22-17, but that was before rookie guard Alex Bentley made a rookie mistake in fouling point guard Lindsay Whalen on a halfcourt shot when time expired. Whalen hit all three free throws to put the Lynx up 25-17 after the first.
The Dream fought back in the second quarter, though, due to a combination of Angel McCoughtry scoring five points in the quarter, compared to none in the first, along with a defense that Reeve wasn’t very proud of. Atlanta outscored Minnesota 20-13 in the quarter.
Minnesota still went into the half with a 40-37 lead though. Whalen led all scorers with 11 points and had a game-high six assists as well. McCarville had added 10 as well.
Power forward Rebekkah Brunson was on pace for a double-double, finishing with five points and six rebounds.
Bentley led Dream scorers with nine points, while de Souza finished with eight, but did have two fouls at the break.
A certain MVP candidate had something to say about that Dream comeback, though. Moore put up nine points in the third quarter, despite appearing to be in some pain. Stepping up in big moments is something that Moore has developed over the years, and especially in 2013.
“Unbelieveable,” Whalen said of Maya’s play and how she’s progressed as a player throughout the season. “So proud of her. You really can’t say enough about her, man.”
Atlanta made the fourth quarter interesting, Alex Bentley 3-pointer 80-73 with 2:01 left in the game.
During that fourth quarter, Lynx General Manager Roger Griffin felt some uncertainty during the game, and he compared it to the 2011 Finals against the Dream.
“They made they push in the fourth quarter and we were able to withstand it,” Griffin said. “We did a better job of withstanding it (this season).”
The Lynx would go onto expand the lead to 84-76, though, after an Augustus jump shot.Those final seconds, Whalen knew she was a champion. She said it was an odd feeling, but a great one.
“It’s just, it’s a time to stay focused,” Whalen said. “There will be ups and downs, and you got to stay together, you know what I mean? It’s just great.”
Moore led all scorers with 23 points, while scoring 15 in the second half. Every Lynx starter scored in the double-digits. Brunson finished with a double-double, finishing with 15 points and 12 rebounds. Shooting guard Seimone Augustus, the 2011 MVP, scored 14 points. Whalen added 13 and six rebounds, while McCarville finished with 10 while shooting 5-of-6 from the field.”
Leader of the Pack: Maya Moore
Moore’s second half lifted the Lynx past the Dream and because of that was named MVP. She had a +/- of +15, which ranked first on the team. She also shot 9-of-10 from the free-throw line.
In the series, Moore averaged 18.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, three assists, a steal while shooting 54.2 percent from the field and 60 percent from the 3-point line.
Moore might not have won the regular season MVP, but things worked out for the best at the end as she’s hoisting the title and the Finals MVP.
Highlight of the Game
Midway through the third quarter, McCarville stole a ball from de Souza before sprinting down the court before going in between her legs to Brunson for a layup.
The league knew McCarville could pass, but in a game-clinching WNBA Finals game, well, that was impressive.
The Numbers Game
“The year is finally over. I can finally disappear from all of these girls all of these women, don’t have to see them for a while. Well, they are okay.” - Lynx center Janel McCarville after the game joking about what it means to close out the season with a championship.
The WNBA hasn’t released its 2014 schedule quite yet, so we don’t know when the Lynx play next. We do know, however, that the Lynx will be having their championship parade on Monday at 11:30 a.m. It will follow the same path as 2011, down Nicollet, a turn on 7th Street towards the Target Center. More information will be available on LynxBasketball.com.
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