WNBA Finals Preview
Two writers break down the Lynx-Fever matchup.
by Abigail Diaz and Christian Mordi
Abi: First and foremost, where should I send the flowers to show my condolences, because I know neither of us ever thought the WNBA East/West smackdown would end like it did on Thursday night. So out of courtesy, lets take a moment to give the women of the Connecticut Suns team a shout out—or not.
Someone needs to say what we’re all thinking….
Which is are the women of the WNBA playing for girl scout cookies or they playing to get into the glory house? At this point, damn if anyone knows.
Two blown leads.
A total meltdown.
Two last minute winning jumpers.
And a total shitshow pretty much sums up the WNBA playoffs thus far.
Someone get a girl a Cosmo ‘cause one can’t handle this up-and-down affair. The only thing that stands clear is that the championship ain’t about to leave the Target Center unless it’s going for it’s yearly mani/pedi. It’s easy to find reasons on why the Minnesota Lynx are going to repeat but let’s state the obvious ones: Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore, and I am going to throw Rebekkah Brunson, in the mix as well ’cause chick’s been balling.
Lindsay Whalen, the All-American point guard, is simply no nonsense (wrist injury or not). Doubters criticized her saying she wouldn’t be a sure thing for the playoffs…well, who’s got the last laugh now? Augustus and Moore (or Team Double-Double as am going to call the two leading scorers from here forward) will drive it into the paint every time. Mordi I already know what you’re going to say: Catchings this/that, but face it no matter how good Catchings is the final ain’t about no solo trip, so unless Katie Douglas gets tight and watches that ankle this final isn’t going to be about fulfilling a quest but about laying down the foundations for a dynasty.
Christian: First and foremost, I would like to say this has been the most entertaining WNBA postseason I have seen probably since the days of Cynthia Cooper with Houston when I was a young whipper snapper. I have been watching the Lynx very closely this post season, and I can say, I am just not convinced. Was Minnesota that good, or did Seattle and L.A just play that badly down the stretch? We are really talking about a 1-point victory against the Storm and a 10-point fourth quarter lead blown by the Sparks.
On the other end, we are talking about the total opposite with the Fever. I must admit, I overlooked the Fever as well. I didn’t think they had what it took to win in this postseason, but they have gained my respect.
We can sit here and argue that Seattle or L.A could have very easily beaten Minnesota, but we cannot say that about Indiana. They won both series (the last one away from home) with convincing fashion. Whether playing a team that plays up-tempo in Atlanta or liked to play the slow grind out half court game like Connecticut, no team has had a cure for the Fever this postseason.
I agree the finals are not a solo trip, and Catchings (even though she may be the best player in the WNBA, yeah I said it) cannot do it alone. If you look closely, the Fever have grown so much this postseason, inserting tough-minded players like Erlana Larkins or a steady hand like Erin Phillips to add a new element to the starting five.
The Fever will win the series because they are better coached and will make the right plays when it matters most. Coaching will be a huge factor in this series.
Abi: I couldn’t agree with you more about this final being determined by better coaching. Now don’t get me wrong I love Mamma Dunn (any successful women that owns the same jacket in every color imaginable is fine by me) but Cheryl Reeves better known as last year’s Coach of the Year and of course championship winner has proven that the Lynx’s rode to the final wasn’t a fluke. No disrespect to the Fever because, let’s be honest, neither of us ever thought they would make it this far, but their win over Connecticut was less then impressive.
They pretty much ran into a burning building and stole anything of value while the owners stood paralyzed by what they were watching. Hey, good on them for seeing an opportunity and capitalizing on it but the Lynx aren’t about to give it all away. Don’t get me wrong, I know every team has an off-night, but remember the Finals have the potential of being a five-night affair. Can you really tell me you think the Fevers’ roaster is deep enough to handle that kind of ball play? I don’t think so.
Especially when the Lynx have just had a nice long break after sweeping the Sparks.
I’ll throw you a bone here and say if the Fever are going to have any chance to beat the Lynx, a team that’s far more technically superior than they are, they’re going to need to play with the same kind of hunger they possessed against the Atlanta Dream AND defensively post the same stats: Pohlen 5-5, Zellous 11 points, Phillips 15 points, Catchings 22 points against Connecticut. Even after all that, they’re going to have to pray for help from above to stop Team Double-Double, Whalen’s left wrist, Brunson rebounding skills and whatever Coach Reeves is cooking up to isolate Catchings. Now go ahead, be a man, take the floor and make up some delusional argument over how “good” the Fever is defensively.
Christian: You made some great points. You are right, the Lynx have had a long break and that’s why they will be rusty coming into the series against the Fever. You also made a great point that this may be a five-game affair, but with the Fever having been pushed to the brink in two straight series, and finding a way to close out both series in dominant fashion, wouldn’t that push the edge to Indy?
You have spent much time naming the stars for the Lynx, but I think you are forgetting to name the brightest star in this series: Tamika Charles. In 2011 she won WNBA MVP for the Fever, but this year, she has actually improved across the board in all categories. She is actually becoming more explosive, and like a fine wine only getting better with time.
Let’s talk a little bit more about Whalen, who was actually outplayed by Bird in round one, and numbers may have actually been inflated due to the uptempo style L.A wants to play. This round will not be a walk in the park, as she is facing Briann January, who is as tough as a junkyard dog. January lives in the paint and will be on the attack all game long. Her length at 5-8 and defensive tenacity will be the great equalizer in Whalen. Need I mention the fact that Whalen is hurt and Briann will be aware she cant drive with the same intensity both ways?
The Lynx have also been blessed to face two opponents who have not really forced Moore nor Augustus to play both sides of the floor. This is where Katie Douglas comes into play. Mama Dunn (as you have so affectionately nicknamed her) has given Katie the green light, and her size and versatile skill set will wear one of the two out.
Seimone Augustus is often the one who gets the call and guards the teams best weapon, but if they put her on Tamika they are taking her right to the post. More than likely she will get the call against Douglas. They will try and put Brunson on Catchings, but Tamika is going to eat her alive off the dribble. The obvious size and skill set matchup would be Moore, but I don’t think Maya is up to the task. I feel like coach hides her on that side of the floor some because she had the tendency to reach a lot (most young players do).
Long story short, if they split in Minnesota, this series wont go five, because the Fever are winning both at home.
Fever in 4.
Abi: The key deciding factor of why the Fever aren’t going to win: Mamma Dunn is going to make the decision to save Katie Douglas till the end which means there is no way the Fever are going to be able to hold off the Lynx. Without Katie, the Fever is going to burn under the pressure.