MINNEAPOLIS – Lindsay Whalen received the message loud and clear. Simply put, her performance in Game 1 wasn’t good enough.
The Lynx point guard and Minnesota native, who struggled with injuries in the latter part of the 2015 season and missed five games, played the fewest minutes of any Lynx starter on Sunday. Indiana limited her ability to get into the lane and create looks for herself and others.
“They are a team that prides themselves on clogging the lane and collapsing,” Whalen said of the Fever, “but I think we have to find different areas where we can do better. That’s one reason they are in the Finals, because they’ve done a really good job of that. As I said, we just have to figure out what we can do to adjust and come out better (Tuesday).”
Whalen was 1-for-3 from the field and scored four points while dishing out four assists in 23 minutes. It was evident that Indiana was focused on not allowing Whalen, a five-time All Star, to be an X-factor. Instead, guard Anna Cruz played a heavy load of minutes (24) and ran the Lynx offense for a good portion of the game.
After the game, Cheryl Reeve said the Lynx needed more offensive production from the perimeter, specifically from Whalen and fellow Olympian Seimone Augustus.
“I asked them to do more, which is what everybody sees, and they need to do more,” Reeve said during Monday’s media availability. “So, I don’t know if that’s more of a challenge or not. Everybody knows they need to do more. I’ve got to help them do more.”
That need is something that isn’t lost on Whalen, a proven veteran who has been in this position before. She knows what’s at stake. She knows that the onus is on her to find her spots and do what is necessary to help Minnesota in Game 2. After all, opposing teams are only focusing so much on her because they know the type of player she is.
“I think being aggressive and finding chances where I can help the team in that aspect,” Whalen said of what changes must be made, “and to look for those opportunities and be mindful. We need to do that. Let it come to me and to always do what I’ve done.”
Reeve says teams have been game-planning against Whalen all year as teams have clogged the lanes and not allowed her to drive and get foul calls as frequently as she has in years past. For a player with as strong a resume as Whalen, though, it’s really just a matter of getting back to what has made her successful for so many years.
“I think it’s really important that Lindsay Whalen be Lindsay Whalen, and we’re going to try to help her do that,” Reeve said.