San Antonio vs. Minnesota: Game One
SLAM is on the scene at Target Center, providing updates throughout the day.
A great, close game between these two teams. Who wants it more? It’s up for grabs.
Just continue to be impressed by San Antonio’s quick hands in passing lanes and hustle.
Moore’s layup gives Minnesota a 55-53 lead. Biggest cheerleader on the bench…Lindsay Whalen.
I will never understand why people bring tiny little babies to sporting events.
If Minnesota can’t find a way to stop the high post passing from San Antonio’s bigs, Dan Hughes will be happy to run the same play each and every time.
Whalen down, but looks to be fine.
Lynx now lead rebounding battle 33-28.
After San Antonio scores AGAIN on the exact same high post passing play, Reeve calls timeout. What will her adjustment be when they hit the floor again?
Somewhat surprised by Amber Harris playing 11 minutes to this point.
Minnesota forces a 24 second shot clock violation. Crowd (and Coach Reeve) loves that.
Taj and Brunson coming back in for Minnesota…starters to finish the game. 3:30 remaining and Minnesota up one.
Exact same high post passing play…Adams gets an And1, hits free throw and ties the game at 62. 2:28 remaining. Run it every time, San Antonio.
Yeah, no…Jia Perkins went out of bounds right in front of me. That’s Lynx ball. Credit the refs for eventually getting it correct.
Becky Hammon hits a 3 in transition and gives San Antonio a 65-64 lead…she is a stud.
Augustus counters…and she’s a stud too.
What a great playoff game…66-65 Minnesota with 45.9 seconds left. Love it.
Lynx ball. They lead by one with 10.9 left.
Rookie of the Year Maya Moore to the line for 2. Misses both…HUGE board by Brunson, her 14th of the game. She’s fouled and misses both. Wow.
San Antonio ball, down one and 7 seconds on the clock. Gee, who do you think takes the shot?
Lindsay Whalen gets a hand in the lane to disrupt the pass. Lynx win the game. Fitting that Whalen seals the win.
Lynx win Game One 66-65. Let the celebration begin Minneapolis…it’s a Friday night.
Lynx come out of halftime and aggressively get ball to Augustus, who gets a foul on Robinson and sinks two free throws.
Sophia Young takes a Rebekkah Brunson elbow to the head. Looks like right on the temple. Ouch.
Three fouls on Whalen…could be a factor later on, but Reeve elects to keep her in the game.
Now three on Brunson. No good for Minnesota.
Major mixup on defense between Wright and Taj leaves Hammon wide open for yet another three. San Antonio leads 41-37.
San Antonio is flat out executing better and out-hustling Minnesota right now. Crowd getting restless…and Lynx are down by 2 points.
That Seimone Augustus block of Becky Hammon wakes up the crowd…and could potentially be the turning point of the game. We’ll see, won’t we? Following it up with a shot to give the Lynx the lead 43-41 seems to indicate that. Timeout San Antonio.
Just noticed five fans with signs that say “This is..” “Our house” “Our Team” “Our Time” and “Our Dance,” indicating Lynx victory dance. We’ll see again, won’t we? San Antonio has every reason to feel confident in themselves in this game and series.
San Antonio continues to lead the rebounding battle, currently 25-23.
The only substitution Reeve has made with 3:40 remaining in the quarter was Monica Wright for Maya Moore. As I type that, Adair makes her way to the scorer’s table.
The high post passing between Young and Adams for San Antonio has been beautiful and unstoppable so far.
Monica Wright showing why the Coach of the Year made a good substitution, stealing the ball and giving Minnesota a 51-49 lead.
Augustus with a SICK crossover on Tully, gets in the lane and a little floater to give Minnesota a 53-51 lead.
Score at end of three: Minnesota 53, San Antonio 51
My favorite sign I see in the crowd reads, “Thank you, Glen,” referencing Lynx owner Glen Taylor.
Anytime I see Tully Bevilaqua, I think “Who doesn’t love her?”
As I type the last comment, she drills a last second 3 on the shot clock to give San Antonio a 19-13 lead. Wow.
A jump ball between Lindsay Whalen and Tully is hilarious.
When Augustus and Moore check back in, the Stars lead 19-15. Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve was able to buy some time as her team calms down some.
The battle in the post between Appel and Adair is really fun to watch.
Augustus’ first basket ties the game at 19 and the crowd loves it…until clutch Becky Hammon shuts them up with a three pointer.
Seimone doesn’t care and drills her second make of the night. Followed by yet another Hammon three. Awesome. San Antonio leads 25-21.
Where would the Lynx be without Whalen? She has 12 of their 23 points.
Augustus hits a three to give the Lynx their first lead of the game at 26-25…then Danielle Adams counters with a three of her own. San Antonio is 6 of 13 from behind the line.
Brunson has 10 rebounds and it’s only the second quarter.
Again, Danielle Robinson is doing a great job on Seimone Augustus as a whole.
Hornbuckle in is a bit surprising, but match-ups are good to give her time.
I haven’t mentioned yet how much respect I have for Dan Hughes. Just a great man and a great coach…and his team leads by five with one minute left before half.
This ready-to-party crowd seems a bit shell-shocked right now, but continues to cheer their team on.
Score at halftime: San Antonio 35, Minnesota 32
OK, everyone…the Minnesota Lynx vs. San Antonio Silver Stars have begun. Here are random thoughts from media row during the game…
Congrats again to Maya Moore on receiving the Rookie of the Year…and congrats to Cheryl Reeve for receiving the Coach of the Year award. When they announced Lindsay Whalen winning the Peak Performer Award for assists, the crowd went absolutely insane!!!
Quick foul on Sophia Young. San Antonio better keep Whalen out of the paint.
Some early jitters for Minnesota. Whalen turnover, sloppy passes and San Antonio off to a 7-2 start. Gotta credit Stars for backing up their confidence talk from earlier today.
That offensive foul called on Hammon was questionable to me. I think she has a right to be upset by that call.
Five minutes in and Seimone Augustus has 1 shot attempt. McWilliams-Franklin has two. Gotta find a way to get Mone the ball more. Credit Danielle Robinson for that early.
San Antonio players told me the focus was to out-rebound the mighty Lynx. As of now, they are up 6-5 in that department.
Minnesota still showing jitters. Shooting 2-11 from the field, helping San Antonio lead 14-6.
Reeve subs out 4 starters, leaving Moore on the floor with Monica Wright, Candice Wiggins, Amber Harris and Jess Adair. When they enter, San Antonio up 14-8.
Four turnovers in the first quarter already for the Lynx after Adair traveling call.
Make that five turnovers. San Antonio with very active hands, playing GREAT team defense.
Three-point specialist Wiggins puts the ball on the floor, drives to the hoop for a pretty layup.
Score after 1: San Antonio 16, Minnesota 11.
While I was able to watch San Antonio’s shootaround, they were running a lot of out of bounds plays with only a few seconds on the clock. They have already worked on the big things and now it’s time to fine tune the small details. Dan Hughes, obviously, is a great coach and has his team prepared as best as he can. Make no mistake, many people may believe Minnesota will win this series—even in a sweep—but that’s not what San Antonio believes.
“They are a very talented team,” said Ruth Riley. “There are a lot of different challenges defensively and they defend us well too. We have different strengths and when you match us up—yes, they’ve gotten the better of us in the regular season—but I think it’s a good matchup overall.”
Riley is right. The Lynx swept the season series, but look at the games more closely. These were well-played games, two of which literally going down to the final seconds. San Antonio believes they have made the adjustments so things can shift in their favor.
“One of the best things Minnesota does, obviously, is pound you on the glass,” said Becky Hammon. “We just really feel like if we can limit their second chance opportunities, we’ll give ourselves a chance to win. In the playoffs, the intensity goes up a level, the focus goes up a level and everything goes up a level. Both teams are about as rested as you can be at this point. We expect ourselves to win.”
These are the games that count now. Forget the regular season.
“You have to come in with a different mindset,” said Jia Perkins. “We know in the regular season we didn’t focus on rebounding. We let them out-rebound us and you’re not going to beat anybody like that. We also have to get everybody back and stop the ball in transition.”
When you have a team as well-coached as San Antonio and add a player of Becky Hammon’s stature into the mix, the Stars have every reason to feel confident. They also don’t care what the outside world predicts will happen.
“I think they’re a team that we match up very competitively with,” said Hammon. “People look a lot at the regular season, but none of that matters anymore. The fact that they beat us with one second left twice doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is now. What matters is tonight and that’s the way we’re looking at it. That being said, we didn’t have DA (Danielle Adams) for three of the four. We feel like we have our full team back and when we were healthy, we were atop of the league. We’re back healthy again, so we’re very optimistic about what we can do. We believe in each other. We realize that nobody else believes in us, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is what’s inside our locker room.”
“It’s really just two good teams going at it,” adds Perkins. “We have different styles. They have some of the best individual players in the league and it’s a tough matchup for us on defense, but for us, we play good team defense. We’re just going head to head and we’re trying to play collectively and see if we can stop their great players.”
Their locker room is united in attempting to knock off the regular season tormentors, the Minnesota Lynx. If they are going to shock the WNBA world with an upset, it starts by playing great tonight and placing a seed of doubt in the heads of the Minnesota Lynx.
“It’s the playoffs and we’ve played each other a lot this year, but we’re going to do things a little different…and I’m sure they’re going to do things different as well,” said Riley.
OK, everyone…I’m leaving Target Center for a few hours. Time for some lunch (finally!) and a tiny bit of rest before heading back here. Until then…
For the few minutes I was allowed inside the Lynx shootaround, I constantly heard Coach Cheryl Reeve—now WNBA Coach of the Year—saying the word, “Good.” They were running through plays and she was very happy with what she was seeing from her team. While I mentioned in the last update that some of the players were goofy, as always, they are all business the moment they step on the court, even for shootaround.
Lindsay Whalen has a few commitments this afternoon and I was able to have an incredibly small exchange with her. Part of it was due to her having to hurry out of practice, but there was also something I’m not used to seeing: she had a “playoff look” in her eye. Covering the Timberwolves and the Lynx all these years, I’m not used to seeing it, but it was definitely something fans will like to see from their floor general tonight.
Here’s the important message Whalen gives after shootaround…
“Doing good. Ready to go. We’re excited. It’s the playoffs,” said Whalen.
Seimone Augustus was able to spend a few moments with me, as she prepares for her first ever playoff game.
“I’m very confident in the focus that we’ll have tonight,” said Augustus. “It’s going to be very exciting and I know the crowd is going to be very into it. We just anticipate a great game between two great teams. I’m just ready to go. We’re just looking at it like every other game. It’s one game and it’s the most important game because it’s the next game. We just want to come out and play hard. You don’t let the fact that it’s the playoffs and all that sink in. We just have to play ball.”
She also has a message for the fans who are making their way to Target Center tonight for the game…
“Continue to bring your friends, your families, your significant others or whoever you can pick,” said Augustus. “Bring them here because we’re going to have the house rocking tonight and we’re going to have a great time. Keep supporting us.”
Back for more after San Antonio’s shootaround…
10:15 am update
Hey there, WNBA fam,
I’m all set up inside Target Center now and waiting for media availability time for the Lynx after their shootaround. As they walked by the media room, making their way to the floor, I’ll tell you this: they looked exactly the same as they always do. What I mean by that is the players who are normally goofy were goofy and the players who are a bit more reserved were a bit more reserved. Routines stay the same, no matter if it is the regular season or playoffs.
So, as you’ve heard by now I’m sure, there will be two major awards given out by the WNBA President before tonight’s game. One of them, completely unsurprising, is Maya Moore will officially be named the WNBA Rookie of the Year. We all saw this coming, Danielle Adams—coincidentally, who will have to watch Moore take the award tonight—gave a great season and put herself in contention, but the award belongs to Maya.
The second award will be Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve will be named the WNBA Coach of the Year. While there were many great coaching jobs this season—San Antonio’s Dan Hughes and Indiana’s Lin Dunn come to mind immediately—Reeve absolutely deserves this award. While I took a bit of heat earlier in the season when I mentioned how she should receive the honor, it was a very fun season watching her coach this team.
Now, can she lead them to a championship? It starts tonight.
I will be back after I’ve had the opportunity to chat with a few Lynx players after shootaround to give you some of their thoughts leading up to tonight’s game. In the meantime, be sure to check out my large post about Seimone Augustus posted yesterday here.
By Stephen Litel / @stephenlitel
Welcome WNBA fans, more specifically those of you who are fans of the Minnesota Lynx and San Antonio Silver Stars. For tonight’s opening game, I will be here with updates throughout the day, leading up to game time. Feel free to leave comments or questions below and I’ll do my best to answer as much as I can. Also, be sure to give me a follow on Twitter @stephenlitel.
While many believe the Lynx should have an easy go in this series, it would be foolish to overlook San Antonio. Although Minnesota swept the season series, they were close games and there are a lot of challenges for Minnesota to overcome in order to advance in the Playoffs for the first time in the team’s history. San Antonio, on the other hand, has a great opportunity to become world beaters if they could pull up the upset and, since everyone is seemingly betting against them, they become even more dangerous because they can just play aggressive basketball.
Do you really think Becky Hammon thinks of her team as an underdog? Of course not.
I’m heading down to shootaround for each team soon and will provide more updates from there. Any specific players you’d like me to try to speak to while I’m there, fans? Let me know.