In a scrappy, hard-fought game in Phoenix, the Minnesota Lynx hung on for a 72-65 win and a sweep of the best of three Western Conference Finals. Next up for the Lynx is the WNBA Finals, where they will play for the third straight year.
Today's game was much more tightly contested then the game one blowout, as the Mercury were much more aggressive on the defensive side of the ball, especially early in the game. They successfully cut off passing lanes for the Lynx and forced them into difficult shots late in the shot clock. It didn't help that Lindsay Whalen, who led the team with 20 points in game one, could not buy a basket today and finished 1-12 for the game. She did, however, lead the Lynx with seven assists and did not turn the ball over.
However, the Lynx also played excellent defense, winning the turnover battle 13-6 and holding the Mercury to 37% shooting. Diana Taurasi in particular struggled to a 6-21 night from the field, which was looking even worse until she hit a couple of late baskets to try to keep her team in the ballgame. 'The Lynx, led by Seimone Augustus, did an excellent job of collapsing on her drives and forcing her into tough looks. Taurasi also attempted 10 three pointers, many of them from well beyond the arc, as her frustration mounted. She only converted two. Candice Dupree rebounded from a poor game one with 17 points on 8-13 from the field, but she was the only effective offensive weapon for the Mercury today.
The Lynx, who led by three at half-time thanks to an early second quarter run keyed by Maya Moore, never relinquished the lead in the 2nd half, and despite their difficulties scoring the ball, eventually stretched the lead to double figures in the 4th quarter behind their stars, Moore, who finished with 27, and Augustus, who finished with 22. The Lynx might have cruised to an easy win from their except for their poor free throw shooting. The Lynx went just 15-27 for the game from the line, including several late misses that allowed the Mercury to close to within five points with a minute left in the contest. Misses by the Mercury, however, allowed the Lynx to escape with a win that wasn't pretty, but gets them to the WNBA Finals.
They will open the best of five Finals at Target Center next Sunday against the Eastern Conference champion Atlanta Dream, who earlier today finished off their sweep of the Indiana Fever.