Fever at Lynx
7:00 pm CDT
Well, this is it.
The Minnesota Lynx get one last shot to win their third title in five years tonight against the Indiana Fever, who will be looking for their second championship.
In a series that has gone the distance, very little separates these teams. They split the first two games at Target Center, then split two at Bankers Life Field House. Tonight they return to Minneapolis for the deciding game before what is going to be a large and partisan crowd. The Lynx have been fantastic at home throughout this run, and almost unbeatable at home in the playoffs for any team except the Fever, who beat them here once in the 2012 Finals when they went on to win the title, and again last week in game one of this series.
For the Lynx, favorites all season, a loss would be hugely disappointing as they attempt to put their stamp on this era of women's professional basketball. They are one of the most talented squads the league has ever seen, with four Olympians in the starting lineup, All-Stars at every position, and last season's MVP playing a starring role.
The Fever have figured them out, however, putting immense defensive pressure on their aging back court of Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus, doing a good job of limiting Maya Moore's looks, and cycling through bigs enough to keep Sylvia Fowles occupied.
Offensively, the Fever have found success getting their quick perimeter players open for jump shots, as Briann January, Shenise Johnson, and Marissa Coleman have all factored into the series with their shooting.
Rebounding is a huge key tonight, as the teams have traded controlling the boards and that has been a huge factor in which team wins; the Lynx cannot afford for Sylvia Fowles to get into foul trouble as she has a couple of times this series, and a big game from rebounding monster Rebekkah Brunson would not go amiss, as she has not been a big factor in the series so far.
Ultimately though it will likely be up to Maya Moore to bring this one home; she's the best player on the floor every time she walks out there, and the Lynx need her to play like it tonight. Following her 24 point in 22 minutes masterpiece in game three that included the game winner at the buzzer, the Fever limited Moore to 20 points on 20 shot attempts in game four. Moore will have to be more efficient tonight.
Another big factor will be free throws. Getting to the line has been huge in this series, and was clearly the difference in game four, when an aggressive Fever team took 29 free throws to the Lynx 9. If the Lynx can simply keep the trips to the line close, they will have a good chance to win tonight; another disparity like game four will be very difficult to overcome.
I rarely do this, but I will now: I plead with you to watch this game. This has been a fantastic series, the Lynx have been a fantastic team over the last five years, and they deserve your attention. The games have all been intense and hard fought, and this one will be no different. The crowd will be loud and Target Center will be full of more excitement than the Wolves have brought for a decade.
It's going to be a good one. Chat about it here.