Series Preview: (1) Minnesota Lynx vs. (2) Indiana Fever

Oct 12 2012 11:34AM

By: Anthony Oliva,

Seimone Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx will defend their title against the Indiana Fever.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images

Which team will win the 2012 WNBA Finals between Minnesota and Indiana?
Which team will win the 2012 WNBA Finals between Minnesota and Indiana?
View Results

Game 1: Indiana at Minnesota
Sun., Oct. 14, 8 pm ET ESPN2
Game 2: Indiana at Minnesota
Wed., Oct. 17, 8 pm ET ESPN
Game 3*: Minnesota at Indiana
Fri., Oct. 19, 8 pm ET ESPN2
Game 4*: Minnesota at Indiana
Sun., Oct. 21, 8 pm ET ESPN2
Game 5*: Indiana at Minnesota
Wed., Oct. 24, 8 pm ET ESPN
* if necessary

Despite facing stiff competition in the Western Conference, it's not surprising to see the Minnesota Lynx back in the WNBA Finals. That's what happens when you have three gold medal winners on a team that returned all but two of its contributors from a title-winning team last year. The Fever, on the other hand, may have surprised some people. Indiana lost the first game of both its playoff series this year and have rattled off four consecutive victories in win-or-go-home games.

What makes Indiana's berth in the WNBA Finals even more impressive is that they were able to win Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals against top-seeded Connecticut without their second leading scorer, Katie Douglas, who left just five minutes into the game after suffering a scary ankle injury. Douglas' health will be a key subplot in this series -- she scored over 20 points in the Fever's three previous playoff games -- and while there is no official word on the severity of her injury just yet, early indications, as she was taken to the hospital during the game last night, did not appear good.

"This is what you play for. You play to make it to the Finals," Catchings said. "So when you get in a situation like this and we're sitting there and we're all circled around her when (Douglas) is laying on the floor, the one thing when we went back is that we talked about, 'hey, one person goes down, everybody steps up,' and everybody stepped up."

If Douglas is unable to play, the Fever will rely heavily on Tamika Catchings -- which is nothing new. The 12-year vet, who won MVP in 2011 and Defensive Player of the Year in 2012, however, will have to have a vintage performance if she is to finally get over the hump and win her first championship. Catchings averaged 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in the playoffs so far, and if she's without her key counterpart, Catchings, arguably the greatest player in WNBA history without a title, will need to do even more if the Fever want to pull off the upset.

While Indiana may have to proceed without a key piece, Minnesota counters with as talented and balanced as a roster you can hope for. Their 'Big Three' of Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen give the Lynx three championship caliber players that can bring their own unique skill set to the game; Whalen with her ability to orchestrate an offense, Augustus with her penchant for scoring at will and Moore with her potential to do, well, everything.

Rounding out Minnesota's starting lineup is an unsung player in forward Rebekkah Brunson -- averaging 14 points and 11 rebounds in the playoffs -- and the league's oldest player, Taj McWilliams-Franklin, who is still effective playing over 26 minutes a game. With a solid bench that also knows how to fulfill it's roles -- possibly the biggest shot of the postsason for the Lynx was a 3-pointer made by Monica Wright in the closing seconds of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals -- the Lynx have a formula that worked last year and appears to working again in 2012.

�When you have good people, good things will happen,� Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. �We do things the right way, the unselfish play. If you look at all of them, they have the same reputation. I�m fortunate to be in Minnesota in this window of opportunity we have.�

As a result of Minnesota's sweep of the Los Angeles Sparks in the Western Conference Finals and the fact that Indiana was forced to a Game Three against Connecticut, the Lynx have will have six full days off before Game One on Sunday whereas the Fever have only two full days and will need to travel to Minneapolis in the meantime.

Reeve does not buy into the fact that her team will be rusty and with a team with the championship pedigree like the Lynx, you can understand why. The Fever, of course, will be hungry and they've proven they can play with their backs against the wall, so they figure to be a tough roadblock in Minnesota's drive for a second-straight title.

Some fast facts about the second-round matchup:

-- Maya Moore has scored exactly 20 points and hit exactly four 3-pointers in Minnesota's last three game.

-- Rebekkah Brunson is averaging 11.0 rebounds per game in the playoffs compared to her season average of 8.9.

-- Indiana forward Erlana Larkins is averaging 10.8 points and 10.2 rebounds rebounds per game over 31 minutes per game in the playoffs after averaging 4.1 points and 4.4 rebounds in 16 minutes per game in the regular season over 16 minutes.

-- In the playoffs, Indiana has the highest 3-point shooting percentage (.375) and Minnesota is second in that category (.365).

2012 Regular Season: Minnesota 2, Indiana 0

Friday, September 14, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN: Lynx 66, Fever 64 | Box Score | Highlights
Indiana Leaders: Briann January (16 pts., 4 asts.), Tamika Catchings (14 pts., 12 reb.)
Minnesota Leaders:Maya Moore (15 pts., 7 reb.), Devereaux Peters (13pts., 6 reb.)

Monday, September 17, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN: Lynx 86, Fever 79 | Box Score | Highlights
Indiana Leaders: Tamika Catchings (19 pts., 10 reb.), Briann January (14 pts., 5 asts.)
Minnesota Leaders:Maya Moore (29 pts., 7 reb.), Lindsay Whalen (13 pts., 6 asts.)

See how the teams match up position by position (Regular Season Stats)

Lindsay Whalen, G, Lynx
11.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.4 APG
Briann January, G, Fever
10.3 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.9 APG
Seimone Augustus , G, Lynx
16.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG
Erin Phillips, G, Fever
6.1 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.2 APG
Maya Moore, F, Lynx
16.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.6 APG
Shavonte Zellous, G, Fever
7.5 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 1.7 APG
Rebekkah Brunson, F, Lynx
11.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.2 APG
Tamika Catchings, F, Fever
17.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 3.1 APG
Taj McWilliams-Franklin, C, Lynx
8.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.5 APG
Erlana Larkins, F, Fever
4.1 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 1.1 APG

Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals