After a bit of a shaky start (down 10-2 at one point), 'Sota took a deep breath, relaxed, and played like the 27-win team they are. Moore didn't get saddled with fouls. Taj turned herself into a gladiator. No one....and I mean no one....could stop Seimone Augustus.
Sunday, I suggested the Lynx should turn game 3 into a war of attrition, and that's exactly what they did. Becky Hammon was an island by the end of this one. A very tired island. She did as much as any one woman could possibly be asked to do in her situation, but when the Lynx calmed down, they remembered they have what to the Stars is an insurmountable talent edge.
This was honestly the most fun I've had watching any Minnesota team in years. These ladies work hard and play hard, and deserve ticket sales and front-page coverage a hell of a lot more than the Vikings or Twins. If you're not watching, you need to be.
- Seimone Augustus - 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists. 10-16 from the floor. She had a 10 minute span at the end of the second and start of the third where she just would not miss. Low post, mid post, three point line...her blitz demoralized the Stars. MVP of the game, no question
- +/- can often be a misleading statistic. Tonight, Taj McWilliams-Franklin's +26 was most definitely not. She was the heart and soul of the team, leading them back from the early deficit and powering them along the rest of the way.
- Whalen went with a minimalist approach tonight, attempting just 3 field goals and letting the ball go where it would. Three Lynx players tallied 4 assists (Augustus, Taj, and Maya Moore)
- The bench stepped up to the plate and hit their shots tonight. They need to keep that up next round.
- 'Sota needs to watch tape and figure out why Sophia Young was allowed to score so much this series. She far exceeded her regular season scoring and shooting numbers. The Lynx have a tough, tough matchup in the post next round with Candice Dupree, who's going to do the same things Young did this round, except for Candice it'll be business as usual.
- I'm not sure what's going on with Wiggins. This year has been a real struggle for her offensively. After averaging 14 ppg in her first three seasons, she's dropped down to 6 ppg this year. Part of that is Maya Moore, but even so....Wiggins sees plenty of floor time as the team's leading sixth woman, and has a stellar jack-of-all-trades game that should lend itself to plenty of production. Maybe she's having trouble adjusting to the new role. She has had to play a lot exclusively at point guard...whatever it is, I hope she figures it out because she's vital to this team and could very well be the make-or-break player against Phoenix.
So the Lynx take on the Mercury next....the team that's given them the most trouble this season and forces the most difficult matchups. What does the team do with Diana Taurasi? Asking a rookie...even one as good as Moore....to go head-to-head with a 5 time All-Star, MVP, and WNBA champion is too much. On top of that, 'D' can legitimately play anything except center. As a point guard, she'd be way too big for Whalen. As a power forward, she'd be too fast for Brunson. The Lynx need to really gameplan this.
Definitely don't miss this upcoming series. MIN/PHX could be the best three games in WNBA history....two fast, athletic, high-scoring teams (PHX was #1 in scoring this year, MIN #3) playing for a shot at the Finals. Game 1 hasn't been officially announced yet, but going by normal scheduling and the ECF slate, I'd guess it'll be Friday.
EDIT: The WNBA has updated it's schedule. Game 1 against Phoenix is Thursday (as in, two days from now) at 8pm. Not sure why they decided to do concurrent days instead of alternate.