WNBA Finals 2013 Blog

Oct 11 2013 2:32AM
DULUTH, GA - Maya Moore is a winner in every sense of the word. She�s won three-consecutive Georgia state high school championships, two NCAA championships at UConn, a Women�s Chinese Basketball Association championship, an Olympic gold medal in London in 2012 and two WNBA Championships. And now, she can add the 2012 Finals MVP to that list, which she won in her old stomping grounds.

�The trophy is always my first priority. I wanted to make sure I was doing my job for my teammates and somehow that ended up with me getting the MVP,� said the forward who had the chance to win it in front of her friends and family.

This trail of championships just doesn�t happen overnight, however. She worked hard to get here and Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve knows that.

�It�s not a coincidence that where Maya Moore is there�s championships.�

Oct 10 2013 9:36PM
DULUTH, GA - Minnesota's Janel McCarville had a sweet top play of the year when she dished a through-the-legs pass to Rebekkah Brunson for the and-1 in the third quarter of Game 3 of the 2013 WNBA Finals. Here teammates were even blown away by the smooth play.

"That's just Janel. I don't know, to pull that off in The Finals, Game 3, on the break --," said teammate Lindsay Whalen.

"She's ridiculous," added Finals MVP Maya Moore.

Lindsay continued, "five or six point tooth and nail game, to go between your legs to another post player, that's J. MAC. That's what she brings to the team. She was unbelievable tonight."

For McCarville, it all just comes naturally.

"It's all part of my repertoire to be honest. It's a daily thing, I do this stuff in practice, so to do it in a game it's not uncommon for me. I'm happy that she got the and-1, you know, it made the move and the play all that more special. It kind of gave us some momentum so it was definitely a great play of the game."

[See Also: McCarville's Rainbow Jumper]
Oct 10 2013 11:29PM
DULUTH, GA - The newly-crowned 2013 WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx.
Oct 10 2013 11:37PM
2013 WNBA Finals Most Valuable Player Maya Moore.
Angel Defiant in Defeat
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Oct 11 2013 1:55AM
DULUTH, Ga. - For Angel McCoughtry and the Dream the 2013 WNBA Finals ended just as it did in 2011 and 2010, with an early exit and without a victory. Despite the setback, McCoughtry was defiant.

"We have that fire. We believe we can win a championship. We still believe for next year too. That's just the type of team we are. We're always going to have fire."

McCoughtry had an uncharacteristically off-night in Game 3, scoring just 13 points. Prior to tonight she averaged a league-best 28 points per game in the Finals. Unlike Games 1 and 2 in Minnesota, however, Atlanta hung tough with the Lynx in Game 3, keeping it close until the end.

"We're still champions," said McCoughtry after the loss. "We might not have it in the stat sheet, on the record book, but I believe we're still champions for everything we went through. We're not supposed to be here right now. We had a tough season, and I'm just proud of everybody, I really am."
Oct 10 2013 7:48PM
DULUTH, GA - The Dream's Angel McCoughtry sinks shots in warm-up just before WNBA Finals Game 3.

Oct 10 2013 7:07PM
DULUTH, GA - The Minnesota Lynx stepping off the team bus at the arena in preparation for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, which you can catch on ESPN2 at 8:30 pm ET.

Oct 10 2013 2:50PM
DULUTH, GA - Maya Moore is back in the arena where she won three consecutive Georgia state championships for Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA � and it feels good.

"I had a nice greeting from one of the staff that led us into the locker room, it was really special, and it just reminded me how welcome I am to come back," said Moore who smiled as she looked around the arena she once played in, during shoot-around. "Being here is going to make me want to focus and lock in and play even harder just because I appreciate how special this opportunity is."

[Related: Encore, Do You Want Moore?]

Seimone and The Will to Win
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Oct 10 2013 2:24PM
DULUTH, GA - The Lynx have a chance to make history � go undefeated in the playoffs and kick-start a dynasty � but in order to do that, they can't get complacent. Seimone Augusts has employed power and the will to win to help get the Lynx to where they are today � on the verge of winning a second WNBA championship � but the team has to stay focused to achieve this goal in Georgia.

"Our will to win has to be greater than their desperation at this point," said Augustus, a few hours before the Game 3 tip-off. "They know this is an elimination game for them, but we're here and we know what we feel like we deserve and we know what we have to do to accomplish our ultimate goal which is to get that championship."

With two dominating wins, it's easy to see how a team could get complacent. And when you watch the Lynx in shoot-around, they seem carefree � joking around with teammates, sharing stories and smiling � but that's just their team chemistry. When they step out on the court against the competition, you can see that aggression and will to win in their eyes and they have been preparing for this moment to keep the same momentum.

"It's the same prep work, but just the focus, knowing that they are at home now and they are going to feed off of their fans' energy so that sense of urgency is going to be that much higher," said Augustus. "But just being persistent in what we want to accomplish, what we want to do on the court, is going to be key."
Angel: Peaches are Ripe.  It's All Good.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Oct 10 2013 12:44AM
DULUTH, Ga. - Looking at Atlanta Dream superstar Angel McCoughtry during shootaround just hours prior to tonight's crucial WNBA Finals Game 3 (8:30pm ET, ESPN2) it's almost hard to believe the mercurial two- time WNBA scoring champ is facing elimination from the WNBA Finals for the third time in her five year professional career. Despite being swept by the Sue Bird-Lauren Jackson led Storm in 2010 and the Augustus-Moore-Whalen triumvirate of the Lynx in 2011, McCoughtry was at ease as shootaround ended.

"Oh, it's great to be back home in Georgia," said McCoughtry. "It's warm. The peaches are ripe. It's all good."

As the conversation proceeded to the 0-2 deficit in the best-of-series with the Lynx, McCoughtry was open to the suggestion that a win for the Dream tonight could potentially turn the momentum of this series and perhaps the collective psyche of the entire Atlanta squad.

"I think so, I think a win tonight for us would do wonders for our confidence -- for one thing it would show us that we can win a game in the WNBA Finals. We need to start there and tonight is a great opportunity for that."

McCoughtry also was inspired by another team who had faced an 0-2 deficit and recovered nicely.

"I was watching a documentary the other day," said McCoughtry. "And Jordan and the Bulls, back in 1993, lost the first two games in New York, and everyone thought, 'Oh this series is over, the Knicks are gonna elimate the Bulls.' And what really happened was, Chicago got home, took care of business and won two straight, and then went to New York and finished off the Knicks. So, it can happen, it has happened before and it can happen again."

For more on Angel, check out NBA TV's Conversation with McCoughtry video below.

Oct 10 2013 1:29PM
DULUTH, GA - Monica Wright has been a lightning-rod in the 2013 WNBA Finals. In Game 1, she posted 20 points and five rebounds. And in Game 2 she did a lot of the little things that don't show up in the box score, while also adding six points to the double-figure numbers from each of the five Lynx starters. Wright has truly emerged as Minnesota's X-Factor in the Finals.

"It's a role I've just been worked into all season and it's something that obviously the team embraces. And the whole bench as a whole embraces our role as coming into the game and being the type of players that bring a spark, and it's worked for us," said Wright who epitomized the Lynx team chemistry just prior to shoot-around, sharing stories with her teammates.

That spark has been another difference maker in the series for the Lynx as Wright has been driven to do everything she can to help her team succeed. And she knows that her and her teammates will continue to embrace that mentality.

"We want to stay focused on what we've been doing, and being here in Atlanta, it's going to be even tougher. It's their home crowd, they're going to have a lot of things going for them, so now we have to be even tougher."

[Related: The X-Factor: Monica Wright and Tiffany Hayes]

The Hayes Factor
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Oct 10 2013 1:04PM
DULUTH, GA - The Dream are back in Georgia and have a chance to swing the momentum in their favor with a victory in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, but against the dominating Lynx, that will require strong play from each Atlanta player.

This is an opportunity for Atlanta's X-Factor Tiffany Hayes to help swing that momentum. Hayes hasn't busted out offensively scoring just two points in Game 1 and nine points in Game 2, perhaps related to a nasty fall she took in Game 1. Hayes played through the pain in Game 2 and is expected to be on the court tonight. Hayes was a crucial factor in the Dream's regular-season and is looking to recapture that form as Atlanta fights to live another day in the WNBA Finals.

"[I need to focus on] making open shots, just doing things I can do, control the things I can control, going in focusing on making my layups with contact, without contact. That kind of stuff," said Hayes who took extra time to practice her 3-point shot in shoot-around.

The Dream have struggled from the three throughout the series, going 0-15 in Game 1 and shooting just 30-percent in Game 2. But the Atlanta is staying positive, knowing that they can change it all back at home.

"We're just going to play our best, we always fight, do the best we can in any situation, so we're going to do the same thing again."

[Related: The X-Factor: Monica Wright and Tiffany Hayes]
Encore, Do You Want Moore?
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Oct 10 2013 8:18AM
DULUTH, Ga - The Minnesota Lynx head down to Georgia for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals against the Atlanta Dream - a team with one of the strongest homecourt advantages in the league.

But for the Lynx's Maya Moore, it is technically a homecourt advantage for her - she'll be playing in the same arena she won three consecutive Georgia state championships for Collins Hill High School in Suwanee, GA.

"How much closer can you get other than playing in my old high school 20 minutes up the road?" Moore said as her team prepared to head down to Georgia. "It'll be interesting to see who can come. I might look up in the stands and see one of my old teachers talking about "Hey you forgot this assignment!"

The Dream normally play at Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta, but scheduling conflicts prompted the WNBA Finals to be moved about half an hour away to the Gwinnett Center in Duluth, GA. It's not only the same arena Moore became a high school star in, but it was her launching pad for her basketball career that is already one of the most decorated in women's history with NCAA, International, Olympics and WNBA championships and accolades under her belt.

"There's so much life that I've lived in between my senior year of my last high school game and now," the 24-year-old said. "I totally give praise to the Lord because He's just taken my life on this journey and He's just blessed with great opportunities and i've tried to take advantage of that and live every moment like it's my last."

Moore was asked what was her favorite memory playing at the Gwinnett Center.

"That's a hard question. You know how many basketball memories I have, fortunately?" she said ribbing the reporter who asked the question. "I'm not that old, golly."

She paused trying to recall the championship games she played there and one moment stood out from her senior year where she nailed a circus shot.

"I remember I hit this crazy shot," she said while trying to reenact a move that looked like the famous skyhook. "It was on a fastbreak and I put the ball over my head from the rightside and watched the ball spin on the rim and fall in."

But it's hard for her to remember many details from her days in that arena.

Oct 10 2013 8:27AM
DULUTH, GA - Good morning sports fans. With Game 3 (8:30pm ET ESPN2) slated for later tonight, check out the All-Access video of Game 2 above for a glimpse into the excitement, intensity and passion of the WNBA Finals.
Oct 8 2013 8:26PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Is it Thanksgiving already? Because Maya Moore brought the stuffing.

The superstar guard channeled her inner-Mutombo in Game 2 swatting Angel McCoughtry with a thunderous block to an electrified crowd of more than 12,000 people at the Target Center.

"She took off pretty far so I knew if I timed it right I could get it in the air and I did," Moore said as she sat relaxed at her locker and smiled after the game. "The crowd really loved it and we celebrated and enjoyed the moment for a while they were retrieving it from the crowd. It sent a message about our defense -that it's not going to be easy to score in the paint tonight."

Moore knocked McCoughtry straight to the ground with the block and landed on her feet with a superhero like pose. Moore said she was just feeling the vibes from the crowd as referees tried to grab the ball she sent flying into the air.

"I was totally in the moment," she said. "Just trying to have a moment with our fans. My teammates came up behind me, we use those moments for fuel and fun. That's the fun of the game - that's the type of team and atmosphere we've created here.

Dream Coach:
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Oct 8 2013 11:13PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Atlanta Dream coach Fred Williams said he has no idea why his team "came up empty" so frequently on shots tonight, including Angel McCoughtry's 5 for 18 shooting from the field and Tiffany Hayes 3 for 9.

"I'll be honest with you, I've never seen a great athlete go through 2-3 players and come up empty on something," Williams said after the game. "With Hayes the same way. I don't know what else to tell them."

"I'm going to keep it clean right now, but I don't know what else to say," he added. "Those percentages are really deceiving."

The Atlanta Dream shot 35.8 percent tonight from the field. The Minnesota Lynx on the other hand made history tonight with their shooting setting a WNBA Finals record for field goal shooting at 56.9 percent.
Seimone Was . . . In The Zone
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images
Oct 8 2013 10:58PM
MINNEAPOLIS - There's a thing they do in the Target Center when Seimone Augustus gets hot. After her third or fourth bucket, the PA Announcer hollers "Seimone Is..." and he waits for it, but not long, before the boisterous, raucous crowd bellows back, "IN THE ZONE!" This little interaction was used frequently tonight as Augustus poured in a game-high 20 points on 9-for-12 shooting to lead Minnesota to a 88-63 Game 2 victory over Atlanta and a commanding 2-0 series lead.

Augustus, who was named 2011 WNBA Finals MVP after dominating the Dream two years ago, wasn't ready to pronounce the Lynx champions tonight, she's way too smart for that, but she was candid when asked if she could see the 2013 WNBA Finals Trophy on the horizon.

"Yeah, it's right there," said Augustus, who added five rebounds and three assists to her 20-point night. "We have 40 more minutes. 80 more possessions to get to where we want to be and get to what we feel like we deserve. But we know that Atlanta is going to bring everything. They're gonna throw the kitchen sink at us."

After Tuesday night's performance, which included a dizzying array of shots from Augustus -- baseline drive and scoop, mid-range jumper off a pick, twisting layup down the lane -- one wouldn't be surprised if she caught the sink and buried it in the basket.
Oct 8 2013 11:52PM
MINNEAPOLIS - After back-to-back blowouts against the Atlanta Dream, the Minnesota Lynx are just one game away from another championship parade in downtown Minneapolis.

"It's hard not to have the emotion that you need one more win and have three games left," Reeve said.

"Is it in sight? Sure, because you have to win one more game," she added. "I know that's the emotion for me as the game ended.It's definitely something - you can kind of taste it."

She emphasized though that the team is taking nothing for granted. Game 3 heads down to Georgia with an Atlanta Dream crowd that has rooted that franchise on to one of its best home records in its history. Reeve said this series is anything but over.

"This is a team that has played really well down there," she said. "They've got a great home record and we have to be good. I think we've angered them through two games. I think they're really prideful. That's all they have to do is win two home games and bring it back here and that's going to be their mission."
Herrington: We Still Have Each Other's Back
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Oct 8 2013 11:43PM
MINNEAPOLIS - After a second successive stinging defeat to the Lynx in Minnesota, Atlanta guard Armintie Herrington, whose commitment to defense is buttressed by her selection to the 2013 WNBA All-Defensive Team, discussed what the Dream can do to turn things around for Game 3 on Thursday night in Georgia.

"You can't transition until you rebound," said Herrington postgame when asked about Atlanta's usually potent transition game. "We have to get to those missed shots in order to go the other way. I think we got some steals, I think we did OK that way. We just have to keep pushing and keep digging and keep being aggressive."

Herrington saw the change of scenery to Georgia from Atlanta as an opportunity for the Dream.

"We're not giving up," said Herrington, who had five points and a game-high four steals in Game 2. "It doesn't matter how many we're down. We're going to play for each other and play hard and try and get a W. Nobody's giving up in this locker room. We still have each other's back and we still want a championship."
Hayes Fired Up and Motivated
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Oct 8 2013 1:37PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Two days after taking a nasty fall in Game 1, the Atlanta Dream's Tiffany Hayes said she's fired up to help take back Game 2.

"Whatever my team needs me to do, that's what I'm going to do," she said while gearing up for shootaround. "I do that every game and tonight that's what I'm going to do."

Hayes went up for a ball and was slammed down to her back as a result. Coach Fred Williams said he's being cautious on deciding whether or not she'll play today.

"She's pretty much a gametime decision right for her now," he said. "Her back is really sore after about 24 hours of therapy, but hopefully we'll have her out there to give us some minutes. Most of the day, we'll find out her movement and hopefully we'll be able to get her going."

Angel McCoughtry said the Lynx are likely going to pay extra attention to Dream center Erika deSouza leaving opportunities for her and Hayes to capitalize on in Game 2.

"They're probably going to double up on her," McCoughtry said. "It just opens it up for our guards to get open shots. It's just up for us to knock down those easy shots."

Hayes said she feels ready to play and is using the fall as a catalyst for Game 2.

"It can give you motivation," she said. "Those type of things happen like that in a game and you just want to come back and bring your A-Game."
Lynx Prepared for the Dream's Physicality
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Oct 8 2013 12:53AM
MINNEAPOLIS - The Atlanta Dream have talked at length about stepping up their physical presence for Game 2 and Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve was asked what adjustments the team will make to prepare for it tonight (8 pm ET, ESPN2).

"None," she said after the team wrapped up shootaround today. "We prepared all week leading into this series for physicality. Everytime we play, we know that teams want to be physical with us - it's not new for us. I think we're really equipped to handle, whether they're going to gamble more, trap more, physically try push us more off our cuts, I think we're of the mindset that's what's going to happen and we're prepared to handle it."

The team may have blown-out the Dream in Game 1, but Reeve added her squad is more than prepared to not take the win for granted for Game 2.

"I'm really fortunate that I've got a smart group, a mature group," she said. "They know that Game 1 was fun, it was 40 minutes, but it's done and over with and it has no bearing over the next 40. As I told them, if we think for a second, they'll be any carry over, that it'll look anything like Game 1, then they should probably stay home because it's not a helpful thought for us to have."
Whalen: Be Patient
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Oct 8 2013 12:35AM
MINNEAPOLIS - Lindsay Whalen worked on her shot at the tail end of shootaround today at the Target Center, with Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, 8pm ET, ESPN2 just hours away.

Afterward, she was all business discussing what to expect for tonight.

"They are going to come out really aggressive tonight, that's what we expect and we are prepared," Minnesota's court-savvy point guard told WNBA.com. "We need to start well tonight and be tough."

The Lynx shot just a shade under 50-percent in Game 1, while the Dream's 31.1 shooting percentage -- including 0-for-15 from the three -- didn't do them any favors. Atlanta my change some things accordingly for Game 2 tonight.

Whalen didn't seem eager to discuss the specifics of what X's and O's might be employed by Dream, or how her squad intend to counter, but it appeared she was a woman with a plan, nonetheless.

"We'll find out what adjustments they make tonight," said Whalen, who dished out a game-high five assists while deftly orchestrating Minnesota's offense in Game 1. "They will probably be aggressive, but the important thing for us is to be patient and then attack what's there for us."
Oct 8 2013 9:46AM
MINNEAPOLIS - Good morning sports fans. With Game 2 (8pm ET ESPN2) slated for later tonight, check out the All-Access video of Game 1 above for a glimpse into the excitement, intensity and passion of the WNBA Finals.
Oct 7 2013 3:53PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream got knocked around in Game 1 by the Minnesota Lynx and the star guard said today her team can't let it happen again.

"We're too nice," McCoughtry said as she was lacing up for practice today. "We can't be nice. I know we've got a great group of nice girls, but we've got to be monsters and we can't let them push us around."

McCoughtry took a nasty fall to the ground in Game 1 running into a hard screen set by the Lynx's Janel McCarville (video above). The Lynx center was asked today what occurred from her vantage point.

"Her people didn't call out the screen and unfortunately she got rocked pretty good," she said. "It was our advantage and we were able to capitalize on that possession."

McCoughtry said instead of complaining about the physical play, her team needs to step it up and get even.

"I got on my teammates, you just don't let anybody do that and just stand there and let them score," she said. "I would knock somebody on their (butt). That's just the atmosphere you have to play in the playoffs. That's not being dirty. That's just fighting and clawing to win and making a statement. I get beat up, I get demolished every game. Why are we not beating up other teams too and tearing them down physically? Why not?"

Coach Fred Williams said he wasn't surprised about the physicality of the play and expects all his players to step it up in Game 2.

"It's the Finals," he said. "It's about if you want that trophy, you've got to battle and fight for it. You've got to push, shove and if you get knocked down, it's a matter of getting back up."
Augustus: It's Gonna Get Chippy
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Oct 7 2013 2:35PM
MINNEAPOLIS - A day after dominating the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Seimone Augustus exuded a relaxed energy during a WNBA FIT Dribble to Stop Diabetes Clinic, happily putting the youngsters through their paces and smiling easily for the cameras.

With Game 2 looming in the near the future (8pm ET, Tues, Oct 8 on ESPN2) however, Augustus quickly recovered the game face that helped spark a sterling 19-point, four-rebound, two-assist Game 1 performance on Sunday night at the Target Center.

"I have no concerns at all," Augustus answered WNBA.com when asked if there was a chance of a Minnesota letdown after their comprehensive 84-59 win. "It was refreshing that our coaches put together and a gameplan for us and that we went out and executed that game-plan, almost to perfection. That's a satisfying feeling. But we know Atlanta is not going to go 0-for-15 from three again. We know they are a great defensive team who want to create chaos and feed off of that. And we'll be ready."

As Game 1 progressed and the score got out of hand, the action on the court got increasingly physical. Augustus, a veteran of three straight WNBA Finals visits, including a Finals MVP effort in defeating the Dream in 2011, expects more of the same in Game 2.

"Hey, it's the WNBA Finals, of course it's gonna get chippy. Everything is on the line," said Augustus. "Their backs are to the wall now, no way they want to go back to Georgia down 2-0, so they will be even more aggressive in Game 2. We went out and played physical and hard from the start last night and I'm sure they will try and respond tomorrow. And we'll be ready."
Hayes Gametime Decision After Nasty Fall
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Oct 7 2013 4:18PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Dream Coach Fred Williams said it'll be a gametime decision for Tiffany Hayes in Game 2 after a nasty fall she had in the previous matchup.

"It'll be a game time decision with her because of the fall she had," Williams said at practice today. "It's a little sore today, so we'll see how it is tomorrow."

Hayes was going up for a ball and got her legs tangled up with another player during the game causing the fall to occur.

"We were both in the air and I fell straight on my back," she said. "No hands, no legs. Just straight on the spot on my back. That was it."

The fall prompted officials to stop the game for several minutes as the team attended to Hayes who was sprawled out on the floor. The hometown Lynx crowd gave the Dream guard a loud round of applause as she was able to make her way off the court.

Hayes said her back feels better today and is fired up for Game 2.

"There was swelling in it, pain, but it's better than yesterday, so we'll see," she said.

"It's a physical game and if that's how it's gotta be, then that's how it's going to be for the series," she added.
Dream Determined to Bounce Back for Game 2
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Oct 6 2013 11:39PM
MINNEAPOLIS - The Atlanta Dream aren't waving any white flags after losing Game 1 of the WNBA Finals 84-59.

Star guard Angel McCoughtry said the loss reminds her of this year's Eastern Conference Semifinals. After the Dream lost Game 1 against the Washington Mystics 71-56, they steamrolled back and won the series.

"We've been through this before," she said. "First game against Washington, it was the same thing. We regrouped and we'll figure it out. We'll be back for a dogfight."

McCoughtry said the mood in the lockerroom after the game was anything but somber as the team remains focused on taking Game 2 on Tuesday.

"We're not going to be down," she said. "What's the point? It's over, we're moving on. We'll keep our heads up and we'll continue to believe. We have confidence in ourselves and we believe we'll win this series."
Oct 6 2013 8:06PM
MINNEAPOLIS - WNBA president Laurel Richie spoke to reporters before the game saying she was psyched for tonight's matchup between two of the league's top teams in the Minnesota Lynx and the Atlanta Dream.

"These two teams know there are a maximum of 5 more games before they're hoisting a trophy," she said. "That just makes it incredibly exciting."

This will be Richie's third WNBA Finals as president. Before the game she highlighted several key aspects of the league's record growth this season including web traffic in double digits and ratings for televised games up as well.
Oct 6 2013 7:23PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Just minutes before the crowd started pouring into the arena for tonight's action, the Minnesota Lynx took the floor one more time to squeeze in some quick drills.

Oct 6 2013 7:01PM
MINNEAPOLIS - The Atlanta Dream's bus pulled into the Target Center for tonight's action and the players had some interesting accessories to come off the bus with. Check out Tiffany Hayes sporting the Whole Foods grocery bags.
Oct 6 2013 6:56PM
MINNEAPOLIS - We're just moments away from Game 1 of the WNBA Finals tipping off and crews were hard at work today prepping for tonight's action. Check out the decals getting placed on the court.

Moore's Quiet Determination
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Oct 6 2013 1:43PM
MINNEAPOLIS - The Lynx were loose at the close of Sunday's gameday shootaround in preparation for tonight's WNBA Finals Game 1 at the Target Center. Amidst the jokes and jocularity, however, Maya Moore was methodically shooting threes, moving slowly and confidently around the arc and concentrating on the catch, the feet, the release. There were no defenders and no stats kept, but to an unofficial eye, she knocked down well over 60-percent of her practice treys.

Immediately afterward, she grabbed a water and talked about competing in three straight WNBA Finals.

"Yes, this is the third straight and that is absolutely an advantage in that I know what it's like, how the intensity rises and what it's like in the Finals," Moore told WNBA.com. "But I know what it's like to win, like we we did in 2011 and what it's like to lose, like last year. I don't want a repeat of that. That's an experience I can do without, and I am determined to get that good, winning experience back."

Although Minnesota does boast what has come be called the "Three to Fear" in Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Moore, as the 2013 WNBA Playoffs have enfolded, it's clear that Maya is the scariest player for opposing defenses, averaging a team-high 21.5 ppg, including a game-high 27 in the Western Conference Finals clincher against Phoenix.

With two of the five 2013 All-Defensive Team players -- Angel McCoughtry and Armintie Herrington -- suiting up for the Dream tonight, Moore knows what she has to do.

"They [McCoughtry and Herrington] do a great job of pressuring their opponents to do things quicker than they want, to rush their play and their decisions on the court," said Moore, eyes narrowing as she discussed tonight's task. "We have to be prepared for the chaos they bring. Every situation is different, so you need to decide: drive at her and go strong, or shoot over it."

Moore didn't seem overly troubled by the challenge, if anything it appeared she was relishing it.

"Everyone knows how important the home court is in the WNBA, and we have terrific support from our fans here in Minnesota and that will be big for us," said Moore. "But that doesn't mean we come out tonight and win. We have to come out with energy -- too much energy isn't great, but I'd rather we have too much than too little -- and do the things we know will win us this first game, and ultimately this series. Game 1 is the beginning tonight, and we're ready."
Sancho Lyttle Talks Injury Frustrations
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Oct 6 2013 1:57PM
MINNEAPOLIS - While the other players of the Atlanta Dream took the floor to warmup just hours before Game 1 tips off tonight, Sancho Lyttle sat on the sidelines and watched.

It's a painful and familiar role for Lyttle, the team's explosive forward who has missed most of this season with injuries and is unlikely to play in the Finals.

"It has been frustrating," she said while watching teammate Erika de Souza work on some post-up drills. "But it's not only the Finals, the regular season games it's been frustrating. We all had a plan this season and now I'm excluded out of the plan."

Lyttle going down this season created a big void for the team losing one of the team's top board crashers and putback scorers. Coach Fred Williams said the team though has been able to make adjustments successfully.

"We pretty much spread her stats all the way around," he said. "She's pretty much around 14 points and 7 or 8 rebounds a game so the other players on the team have all picked that slack up."

Lyttle said it's been tough to not be able to play, but she emphasized she's ecstatic over how well the Dream has been doing this season.

"It has been exciting to see when one teammate goes down, the rest of the the team steps up to the plate so I don't have any complaints about that," she said. "Just only for own sanity that I can't play."

She added she doesn't let her injury frustrations deter from being there for her teammates as they attempt to get their hands on their first ever WNBA championship.

"You keep yourself in the game," she said. "When I'm on the bench, I'm practically in the game. I see different things that sometimes they don't see. But when I wasn't traveling, it was even harder because I wasn't there with them. The traveling helps, but it's tough because you always want to be on the floor."
Fred Williams' Rapid Turnaround
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Oct 6 2013 1:33PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Coach Fred Williams took over the reigns at the Atlanta Dream more than two thirds into a season marred with controversies and frustrations.

This year, the team soared to winning heights it had never experienced before as a franchise and it's third WNBA Finals appearance in four years. It's a stark contrast to the situation Williams stepped into when the team fired then head coach Marynell Meadors. So how did he do it?

"A lot of it started in the offseason," Williams said at the team's shootaround just hours before tonight's game. "There's always concern with your players playing overseas so I just kept in touch and made sure they were doing the right things there."

This may be Williams first full season coaching the Atlanta Dream, but he's been with the team since 2008, having architected the team's transition offense that has made them successful over the years.

"Once you get into training camps, I always constructed a fast break offense here so they were used to that," he said. "Defensively I had to tighten up a few things but they bought into it and I just continued coaching."
McCarville:  First Thing's First
NBA/Getty Images
Oct 6 2013 1:00PM
MINNEAPOLIS - Lynx center Janel McCarville is familiar with her surroundings hours before Game 1 of the 2013 WNBA Finals, having played college ball with teammate Lindsay Whalen at the University of Minnesota and growing up in relatively local Wisconsin.

What McCarville is not familiar with, however, is competing in a WNBA Finals.

"I've never been in a Finals so this is exciting for me and I'm really looking forward to competing for a championship," the 6-2, 215-pounder told WNBA.com at the close of Sunday's pregame shootaround at the Target Center. "This is why I play, to compete with and against the best and that's what the Finals are all about."

Acquired by Minnesota after they were knocked off their championship perch by a physical, tough-rebounding Indiana Fever squad in the 2012 Finals, McCarville has fit right in with the Lynx, defending with equal parts aggression and smarts and contributing over five rebounds and three assists per playoff game.

Atlanta's Erika de Souza has been a solid post-presence in the Dream's run to the Finals, something McCarville is well aware of and eager to address.

"She's a good player, a strong rebounder, on both ends of the court and I have to do what I can to check that," said McCarville. "When she gets comfortable she can knock down shots, so I have to keep her off her sweet spot, make her work for position on every single possession and try and keep her off-balance and from getting into a flow."

On the offensive end, McCarville has a unique skill set for a "big" as her court vision and deft touch seem more suited to guard play than the rough-and-tumble of the post.

"I've always felt I was a point guard in a center's body, and that's how i play," said McCarville, who set up shop in the high-post and dished to great affect in Minnesota's sweep of Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. "I pride myself on being able to make the right pass at the right time and that's something I bring to this team. We have so many good scorers that getting them the ball with good looks is something I know I have to do."

With her first Finals appearance hours away, McCarville was determined to stay grounded along with the inevitable excitement.

"I can't wait to get out there and start playing, but I want to make sure I don't have too much adrenaline out there," said McCarville. "It's a great feeling, but I know to be effective I have to stay within myself and play my game to help the Lynx to the WNBA Championsip."
More �


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