The Minnesota Lynx are your 2017 WNBA Champions after taking down Los Angeles 85-76 in front of a sold out Williams Arena crowd. Sylvia Fowles was named Finals MVP after notching a double double in each of the five games in the series. She had 17 points, a Finals record 20 rebounds, four assists, three blocked shots and two steals in game 5.
Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson were yet again the most important players on the court as the Lynx won with defense and rebounding for the second straight game. The Lynx bigs combined for 28 of their team’s 46 total rebounds, a category Minnesota won 46-29 and 12 of their team’s 14 offensive rebounds as well. Game 4 seemed to reveal the true value of winning the rebounding battle. Fowles confirmed at the post-game press conference that her focus was indeed on cleaning the glass.
“If I didn’t do anything else, I just wanted to make it my business to make sure I just go out there and rebound, and that was my downfall last year. Like I said, I fell on the court, that haunted me for a long time after game 5 last year. I just wanted to come in and I wanted to show my presence, and if that was rebounding, then rebounding it was.”
There were a lot of rebounds to be had thanks to Minnesota’s defense. By protecting the paint, staying solid in pick and roll coverage and not allowing many second chance points, the Lynx showed why they were the best defensive team in the league all season.
The entire starting group for Minnesota were excellent and deserve credit for this game. Maya Moore hit the biggest shot of the game putting the Lynx up five with 26 seconds left after the Sparks had trimmed a 12 point fourth quarter lead to just three in less than two minutes. Seimone Augustus had 14 points, six assists and six rebounds. Lindsay Whalen turned in one of her best performances of the season. Her 17 points and eight rebounds went a long way, but her fire and effort elevated the rest of her teammates and the crowd for the entire evening. She passionately organized the team, was involved in at least three tie-up jump ball situations, and brought her signature competitive flare to the game.
Whalen returning to her alma mater to win a WNBA title has to be one of the best moments in Minnesota sports history. She put the University of Minnesota women’s basketball program on the map. A banner featuring her name, number and photo hangs in the rafters at Williams, now she’s won a championship on the court where her journey to becoming a hall of fame player began.
The Lynx have dominated the league over the last seven years due to a historic collection of talent and great coaching. But what makes them four time champions has more to do with their bond as a team and the sacrifices they make for each other. They genuinely care about each other and that takes their passion for winning to new heights. Obviously this not a quantifiable thing, but spend enough time around the franchise and Cheryl Reeve and you’ll be a believer too.
“I can’t tell you how blessed I feel to be around these guys every day” Reeve said, “Obviously it’s the most special time in our lives from a professional standpoint, but it’s the people. It’s the people that we do it with that just - we’re in it for life, this group. We’re in it for life, and that’s just an incredible blessing that I feel to be able to be around it every single day.”
WNBA history is being written right here in Minnesota. The Lynx are champions. They are a dynasty.
Brunson is the first player in WNBA history to win five championships.
Minnesota has the top four scorers in Finals history: Moore (441), Augustus (362), Whalen (295), and Brunson (278).
14,632 fans turned the 90 Williams Arena into an intense home court advantage by screaming for nearly two hours straight Wednesday night. Truly deafening.
A championship parade! Head to Dinkytown on Thursday evening (University Avenue and 12th Ave SE) at 6:30pm. The parade will finish at Williams around 7:15pm and celebrations will continue from there.