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It's probably fair to say that nobody expected the Indiana Fever to deny the Minnesota Lynx a second consecutive title. Not only did they accomplish the feat, but they did so in convincing fashion: winning the series 3-1 with an impressive 87-78 win in Indianapolis.
The Minnesota Lynx won 83-71 against the Indiana Fever last Wednesday, led by a combined 50 points from Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore to tie the series up to one game a piece. Still, the bad news for the Lynx is that if the team expects to win this series 3-1, the Fever has home court advantage as this game, and Game 4 on Sunday will be at Bankers Life Fieldhouse instead of Target Center. Tonight's game is on at 8:00 PM EDT on ESPN 2.
After yet another slow start, the Minnesota Lynx got back to their strengths with a record-setting rebounding effort to defeat the visiting Indiana Fever in Game Two of the 2012 WNBA Finals.
For more on the 2012 WNBA Finals, check out our storystream on the right sidebar of this page.
During the Minnesota Lynx's 83-71 win over the Indiana Fever in Game Two of the WNBA Finals, coach Cheryl Reeve drew a technical late in the third quarter that changed the course of the game.
The Indiana Fever drew first blood in Game 1 of the 2012 Finals against the Minnesota Lynx, winning 76-70, headlined by by Erlana Larkins' 16 points, 15 rebounds, and 3 assists. Tamika Catchings added 20 points, 6 rebounds, 4 blocks, and 3 steals in another one of her trademark all-around performances. For the Lynx, Seimone Augustus led the way with 23 points and 6 rebounds. Today the Fever tries to get the home team on the brink of elimination in Game 2, which is on ESPN (not ESPN 2), at 8:00 PM EDT.
For all of our coverage on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream on the right sidebar of this page.
After spending a couple of days looking at how the Indiana Fever won Game One of the 2012 WNBA Finals, today we look at the defending champion Minnesota Lynx who will try to even the series at one apiece before heading to Indianapolis for Games Three & Four.
For more on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream menu on the right of this page.
Injured Indiana Fever guard Katie Douglas remains doubtful for Game Two of the 2012 WNBA Finals after missing Game One after going down early in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals. But how is it that the Fever have been able to win consecutive games on the road against two of the best teams in the league without one of their star players? There are a few plausible theories - some of which have already been discussed - but we might be able to narrow it down to a couple. For more on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream menu bar to the right.
Indiana Fever forward Erlana Larkins tied the record for second-most rebounds in a WNBA Finals game in a surprising Game One win against the Minnesota Lynx. However, it's another rebounding record that she tied, which was even more significant to the Fever stealing home court advantage from the defending champion Lynx.
We now are hitting the championship round between the best of the Eastern and Western Conferences, the Indiana Fever and Minnesota Lynx respectively. Game is on at 8 PM EDT on ESPN 2. Will the Lynx win their second championship in the last couple years? Or will Tamika Catchings finally get that elusive championship? We won't find out tonight, but we will find out what these two teams are made of over the course of this series.
The Minnesota Lynx enter the 2012 WNBA Finals trying to become the third team in WNBA history to win back-to-back championships. In their way is the Indiana Fever, a franchise that is trying to win their first WNBA title after taking part in one of the most competitive Finals series in WNBA history in 2009. Having already looked back at the paths that both the Fever (click here) and the Lynx (click here) took to the WNBA Finals, we now look at the matchup itself. For more on the WNBA Finals, visit our storystream by using the menu to the right.
Tim Leighton of the Pioneer Press previews the 2012 WNBA Finals by taking a look at how the defending champion Minnesota Lynx would stack up against the Houston Comets, which won the first four championships in the WNBA's existence.
But could the Lynx beat the pioneer Comets?
Augustus smiles when asked to imagine what would happen.
"I'd love to see that in a video game," she said. "I think we'd stack up pretty well. We've got to get EA Sports on that right away. I just want to leave a legacy, and we have an opportunity to do so."
EA Sports: you have your orders. Get it done.
The nationally-televised WNBA Finals best-of-five is set to begin Sunday, Oct. 14.
For more on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream with the menu bar to the right.
The Indiana Fever have advanced to the 2012 WNBA Finals after escaping a pair of a three-game series in the Eastern Conference Playoffs, despite making a change to their starting lineup and losing star guard Katie Douglas in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. How did they do it?
For more on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream with the menu bar to the right.
Unfortunately, I had to watch another conference finals game on DVR and was actually eager to see how on earth the Indiana Fever beat the Connecticut Sun in such dominant fashion after I heard that Katie Douglas left the game on a stretcher at some point.
The following are just my notes on what happened during the 87-71 win last night with more on the game and the Finals matchup to come later.
Congrats to the Indiana Fever, who make their first trip back to the WNBA Finals since 2009.
Andrea Ellis of LynxBasketball.com writes in her practice report from Minneapolis that the Minnesota Lynx are just as excited as the rest of us about Game Three of the WNBA Eastern Conference Finals tonight.
But who do they prefer as an opponent? That's hard to say.
"I think Connecticut has great inside game," Whalen said. "I think that they really use Charles and Jones really well. They push the tempo."
"[Connecticut is] more offensive-minded as far as getting out in transition," said Augustus. "They're setting drag-screens to free up Kara Lawson or Renee Montgomery for shots, or feeding the posts to get it inside to Asjha Jones and Tina Charles."
Minnesota would have a tough opponent in the Fever as well, but the Lynx agree that with Indiana, finding holes in their defense would be one of the more challenging aspects of the series.
"[Indiana], we had a game with them [where we only scored] in the 60s, so we know that their defense is really good," Whalen said.
As described in our previous piece after the Lynx won the Western Conference Finals, there are pros and cons for each matchup that make it difficult to determine which is more advantageous.
In playoff games, often there is an unsung hero, a non-star player who steps up and makes a big shot to win a big game for his or her team. On Monday, we saw Fever guard Shavonte Zellous (pictured above - but no, that picture wasn't from Monday's game) do just that as she sunk a game winning shot with 0.5 seconds left in the game to lead the Fever to a 78-76 victory over the Connecticut Sun. Zellous only scored four points, including the game winner on that night. That leads us to tonight, where both teams will fight for the right to challenge the Minnesota Lynx in the Finals at 8:30 PM EDT. Winner Take All.
David Woods of the Indianapolis Star reports that Indiana Fever forward Tamika Catchings has seen Shavonte Zellous pull off a shot like the game-winner she hit last night in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals before:
"That one-two dribble pull-up? Left, right," Catchings said. "That's what she does in practice. Sometimes it looks wild and crazy, but it goes in."
While the final shot is what stands out about that game, Woods notes that turnovers were a big part of the story: the Fever outscored Connecticut 21-9 in points off turnovers.
For more, visit Woods' story at the IndyStar.com.
The Minnesota Lynx' path to the 2012 WNBA Finals hasn't been without a couple of close calls: they were a Lauren Jackson jumper away from being knocked out in the first round.
But the very fact that they've been able to survive the best shots that their Western Conference opponents could muster says quite a bit about this team statistically.
For more on the WNBA Finals, check out the storystream with the menu bar to the right.
What an insane finish that was...NBA fans should appreciate Mr. Pelton's reference, which has ties to the Fever's brother team.
What a crazy final 10 seconds. Shavonte Zellous makes love to pressure!— Kevin Pelton (@kpeltonWBB) October 9, 2012
I will not bother trying to describe the Indiana Fever's 78-76 win over the Connecticut Sun tonight - just take Matt Zemek's advice.
Do be sure to catch the final 20 seconds of the Connecticut-Indiana WNBA game on a highlight show, YouTube, or some other video outlet.— Matt Zemek (@mzemek) October 9, 2012
The Indiana Fever are obviously known for their defensive prowess, which tends to slow games down to among the fewest possessions per game in the league by denying opponents fast break opportunities and points off turnovers.
With the Fever on the brink of elimination in Game Two of the 2012 WNBA Eastern Conference Finals, we should probably expect them to ramp up the defensive intensity. And with that, Connecticut Sun coach Mike Thibault is expecting a physical game, as reported by Mike DiMauro of The Day.
"The history of Indiana has been to come out, foul on every possession and see what they can get away with," Sun coach Mike Thibault said Sunday after practice at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. "Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. I expect that (tonight) from them from the start. I'm sure we're going to get fouled on almost every play."
Best of luck to tonight's refs.
The Sun drew first blood against the Fever, 76-64 last Friday, led by WNBA MVP Tina Charles' 18 points, 15 rebounds, four blocks, and two steals. In addition, Three additional Sun players scored in double digits. Today the Fever looks to continue its Finals hopes alive with the support of its fans at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Game is at 8 PM EDT, on ESPN 2.
Unfortunately, I missed Game Two of the Western Conference Finals today. Fortunately, DVR'ing exists.
The following are my running notes of the game as I watched the DVR recording. I also had two "spoilers" in my email inbox when I got home that primed to me to watch a couple of things, but I'll get to those at the end.
The Minnesota Lynx drew first blood against the LA Sparks last Thursday, winning 94-77 at Target Center. Today, the Sparks look to avoid elimination and extend their season for one more game. The game will be on at 3:30 PM EDT on ABC (that's right, it won't be on cable TV), and once again, you may have conflicting sports interests with NFL football and the MLB Divisional Playoffs which will happen simultaneously with this game. But we still are a few weeks away from the midpoint of the NFL season, and today's MLB playoff games are only the first games of those playoff series, so basketball it is!
18 points and 15 rebounds from Tina Charles powered Connecticut to a 76-62 Game 2 win over Indiana. Katie Douglas led the Fever with 27 points. For freebies, things that rock, large shoulder chips, and more, join your intrepid blogger below.
There were a lot of questions for the Indiana Fever prior to the Eastern Conference Finals, perhaps chief among them who would step up to help the Tamika Catchings and Katie Douglas score.
Unfortunately, even Catchings struggled and the Fever fell 76-64 to the Connecticut Sun in Game One of the 2012 WNBA Eastern Conference Finals.
Catchings scored just 7 points on 2-for-14 shooting in the game as the Fever only shot 38.1% overall. Douglas made a valiant effort to keep the team close in the fourth quarter and finished with 27 points on the strength of 5-for-10 3-point shooting. Forward Erlana Larkins started for the third consecutive game in the playoffs, but struggled to contain Sun center Tina Charles who recorded a double-double with a team-high 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
In a series that figured to be full of adjustments on both sides, the Fever will have to make a few to avoid elimination in Game Two.
Jayda Evans of the Seattle Times is busy writing up Seattle Storm exit interviews after their heartbreaking one point loss to the defending champion Minnesota Lynx in the first round of the 2012 WNBA playoffs.
Although this is the second consecutive season in which the Storm have taken a heartbreaking exit from the playoffs since winning the title in 2010, head coach and GM Brian Agler was positive about the season overall in his Q&A with Evans.
Q: How do you view the roster given the injuries it battled?
Agler: There's a tremendous amount of respect. I told them after the game that I don't think I'd ever been more proud of a team and how they battled; knowing what they're going through individually and all the issues that we battled throughout the season, whether it be injury, absence, schedule, all those things were very taxing on our team.
Although this year's loss might feel more regrettable to some fans given that advancing past the defending champions would seem to give the team hope for returning to the Finals, the Storm's effort - and near victory - is indeed plenty to be proud of given the narrative of the season.
Yes, it was a first round loss, but in the context of a season hampered by injury and further disjointed due to the Olympics and Lauren Jackson's absence, even competing with a team that might go down as among the most potent in the history of the WNBA is at least something for fans of the organization to remain positive about as the team continues to slowly go young in preparation for a future without Sue Bird and Lauren Jackson.
For more reactions to the Storm's exit from the playoffs, check out StormBasketball.com's link roundup.
I mentioned in the comments of my WNBA Eastern Conference Finals preview today that this series between the Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever figures to be something of a chess match.
With the two teams only playing at full strength twice during the regular season and Erlana Larkins and Erin Phillips starting the final two games of their first round series against the Atlanta Dream, it's clear that both coaches are going to have some decisions to make going in and will then have to adjust as the series goes on.
Bob Corwin of Full Court Press framed the chess match as follows in his series preview:
Larkins had 20 rebounds in the series-clinching Game 3, and Connecticut coach Mike Thibault now has to prepare for her instead of Tammy Sutton-Brown or Jessica Davenport.
Or does he? Will Dunn make new adjustments going into the Connecticut series? What worked so well against the Dream is less likely to work against the Sun so Dunn will have to decide whether to try to ride the Fever's current positive momentum or make changes yet again out of the gate. On the flip side, there's not much motivation for Thibault to roll the dice, given the relative ease of the sweep of New York Liberty, so expect the Connecticut Sun status quo in Game 1.
Corwin goes on to predict the Sun winning the series in three games because the numbers seem to be in their favor and it's hard to disagree with that assessment. But with Dunn's obvious willing to tinker even at this late stage in the season, it's hard to predict exactly what this series will look like.
For more on the series, check out our Eastern Conference Finals preview.
We now turn our attention to the other side of the United States as the Indiana Fever and Connecticut Sun, the top two teams out east battle for the Eastern Conference championship. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals starts at 8 PM EDT on ESPN 2.
The Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever meet in the 2012 WNBA Eastern Conference Finals after the Sun won the regular season series 3-1, as described by WNBA.com's series preview. In a battle of the last two league MVPs, the thing to watch might be what their supporting cast members can do.
#LosLynx win 94-77! MN now takes a 1-0 advantage in the W Conf Finals before heading to LA for Game 2 on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT on ABC!— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) October 5, 2012
Despite the concerns about fatigue and being one shot away from elimination in the first round of the 2012 WNBA Playoffs, the Minnesota Lynx looked ready for a return to the WNBA Finals in a 94-77 win over the Los Angeles Sparks tonight.
Regardless of whatever doubts people had after the first round, the Lynx are still an extremely difficult team to defend and the Sparks simply didn't look up to the task tonight, as described by Jānis Kacēns in a brief recap of the game.
There was some tight defense being played in the series between Minnesota and Seattle, but that wasn’t the case in this game. Los Angeles could not provide nowhere the same defensive intensity. After a slow first quarter Minnesota got their legs under them and went on a 14-2 run in the second quarter. They scored twice as many points in the second quarter (32) as in the first (16).
L.A.'s inability to contain all of Minnesota's options was only exacerbated by their inability to consistently compete with them on the boards, where they were out-rebounded 37-25.
The series continues in Los Angeles on Sunday at 2 p.m.
For more on Minnesota's playoff run, visit SB Nation Minnesota's storystream.
Inevitably, someone was going to bring up the fatigue factor when discussing the WNBA Western Conference Finals matchup between the Los Angeles Sparks and defending champion Minnesota Lynx.
While the Sparks have played only two games in 13 days and been resting since finishing their first round series against the San Antonio Silver Stars with a two-game sweep, the Lynx just finished a physical three game series against the Seattle Storm on Tuesday.
I'll go with Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve's response to this matter, as quoted by ESPN's Mechelle Voepel.
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said she would be "very disappointed" if fatigue was a factor for her team in the series.
"At this point, you're playing on adrenaline," Reeve said. "The 'fatigue' word is for losers."
Now that four teams, two per conference have made the conference finals, we can now return our attention solely to one game at a time. Today, the Western Conference Finals begin, with the Minnesota Lynx hosting the Los Angeles Sparks for Game 1 of a best of three series, at 8 PM EDT, and 7 PM CDT locally. Watch this game on ESPN 2.
The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx meet in the Western Conference Finals after splitting their regular season series (2-2), as described in WNBA.com's series preview. For the second series in a row for the Lynx, point guard play figures to be a significant determining factor in the series.
Minnesota Lynx guard Seimone Augustus had some nice words to say about the point guard play in her team's Western Conference semifinals series against the Seattle Storm, as posted at StormBasketball.com.
I think every little girl that aspires to be a point guard got a chance to see the two best point guards go head-to-head tonight. You got to see the guts of both of them. Sue went through some things with her health and Whalen gutted it out tonight to help us get the victory. For every little girl out there trying to be a point guard, you just witnessed a great series between two great point guards that are determined to do whatever it takes for their team to win.
Tuesday night's game was a showcase of the best point guard play a basketball fan could hope for, reinforcing how a point guard's performance can have such a huge impact on their team.
Statistically, Storm point guard Sue Bird won the day with 11 assists and 2 turnovers (an extremely efficient 13.33 pure point rating) and a huge three down the stretch to keep her team in the game. But in spite of a pedestrian stat line - and a -4 plus/minus rating - Whalen had one of the gutsiest playoff performances in recent memory, running her team with a left wrist that she clearly struggled to even put pressure on.
The point guard play in that series was just one of the many dynamics that made it seem like three games weren't enough to do the quality of play justice.
The WNBA conference finals schedule is set as the Minnesota Lynx, LA Sparks, Connecticut Sun and Indiana Fever made it through the semis, and some by the skin of their teeth.
The possibility of a 2011 WNBA Finals rematch ended tonight.
While the Minnesota Lynx advanced after another dramatic bout with the Seattle Storm, the Atlanta Dream fell to the Indiana Fever.
Kris Willis of SB Nation Atlanta has a brief recap of the Dream's 75-64 loss to the Indiana Fever, marking an Angel McCoughtry technical foul as a turning point in their season finale.
...Atlanta would answer quickly cutting the lead back to six and regaining some of the momentum until Angel McCoughtry was undercut by Briann January during a scramble for a loose ball. A visibly angry McCoughtry got to her feet and swiped the ball away from January and received a technical foul. Katie Douglas sank the free throw and the Dream's momentum disappeared in what was a snapshot of their entire season.
The Lynx survived a nail biter against the Storm as Lauren Jackson couldn't convert a contested jumper on the final possession of the game as the Lynx held on to win 73-72.
Jordan Sargent of SBN Minnesota has a brief recap of the details from a Lynx perspective.
Seimone Augustus led the Lynx with 21 points on 8-15 shooting on the field -- she also added four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Forward Maya Moore was right behind Augustus with 20 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists. Rebekkah Brunson was the third member of the Lynx in double digits, with 16 points to go along with a team leading nine rebounds.
For the Storm, it's the second year in a row that their season has ended with a heartbreaking loss, but for basketball fans it was just a great series to watch that almost leaves you wanting for a a best-of-five in the WNBA.
Wow! What a game tonight. Lauren Jackson who hit a clutch shot in GM#2, misses in the closing seconds of GM#3 & #loslynx advance 73-72.— Alan Horton (@LynxRadio) October 3, 2012
Really hurts.Know our ENTIRE @seattlestorm family wanted that win really bad.Proud of team that battled so much adversity.Tough tough loss.— Karen Bryant (@KBSeattleStorm) October 3, 2012
Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Minnesota Lynx and Seattle Storm was the kind of classic basketball masterpiece that you hope for in the playoffs and takes a while to fully digest.
Kevin Pelton of StormBasketball.com has already doing a great job capturing the epic nature of the Storm's double overtime win on Sunday with his oral history of the game, but today we try to put that behind us and look ahead to their decisive Game Three battle at 9 p.m. EDT tonight.
Indiana's Briann January scored 24 points - a career high - to lead Indiana to a 103-88 playoff victory in Game Two to send the series back to Indiana for a final Game Three.
The Seattle Storm beat the Minnesota Lynx 86-79 in double overtime in the first round of the WNBA Playoffs to extend the series to a third and decisive game on Tuesday. Check out SBN Minnesota for a full account of the game.
OK, how can you not grin at that ... maybe even if you are a Lynx fan. LJ struggles shooting all night, then makes the 3-pointer to go to OT— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) October 1, 2012
The Seattle Storm's 86-79 double overtime win against the defending champion Minnesota Lynx tonight was nothing short of an Instant Classic.
Was it perfectly played? Not really. Were there mistakes made (by both teams and possibly the officials)? Sure. But fittingly, a game that featured the last two WNBA champions arguably produced the most exciting basketball game of the season and was a perfect showcase for what the league can offer on ESPN.
SB Nation Minnesota has already recapped the game and you'll get more from us later, but sometime during the fourth quarter or so I started cataloging worthwhile tweets. Then it went to overtime. Then it went into another overtime. So here are a few tweets that at least begin to capture a game that's really hard to put into words.
Man. Some of these WNBA playoff games have been crazy. Great Lynx v. Storm game on ESPN right now. Lauren Jackson just hit a 3 to send to OT— Nate Jones (@JonesOnTheNBA) October 1, 2012
Bruh! I LOVE this game. This is a #WNBA playoff game where my squad isn't even playing, and I'm exhausted from watchin cuz I was so invested— P▲t D▲ Roc (@TheFlyestHoopa) October 1, 2012
This game reminds me of last year when we beat Seattle and nobody thought we was gon win.. Minny n trouble boy.. Good game seattle— AGL (@2realagl) October 1, 2012
Never doubt the spirit and will to win of Sue Bird. In clear pain and discomfort throughout game, quitting wasn't an option. #WNBAPlayoffs— Holly Rowe (@sportsiren) October 1, 2012
If you have a chance to watch that game somehow - or even DVR'd it and see this as one big spoiler - I would certainly recommend doing so. That was just an exciting game to watch for any fan of the sport.
I know there's football, and the local team in DC is playing the Bucs at 4:25 PM in Tampa Bay. However, it's not win or go home time in the NFL, but it will be in the WNBA, as the Indiana Fever tries to even the series against the Atlanta Dream on the road, and the Seattle Storm tries to do the same against the defending champion Minnesota Lynx. Games will be on ESPN and ESPN 2.
2012 WNBA MVP Tina Charles helped the Connecticut Sun overcome a 16-point first half deficit to sweep their series against the New York Liberty.
So this might very well be it. And if this is it, I'm okay with that. We fought just hard enough to make the playoffs and just hard enough to look respectable in Game 1. If we win, we win. If we lose, then Connecticut deserves to advance.
The Liberty and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que hosted an all-you-can-eat for Liberty season subscribers. After yet more miscommunication with the poor unfortunate wretch detailed to handle our account, we did get our tickets and our wristbands, and then there was deliciousness. I think I'm going to be oozing barbeque sauce after the fifth day of BBQ, though- we're still working through the leftovers from Connecticut! Organized, it was not, but at least there was a little bit of camaraderie.
Oh, Essence's music video! This is interesting. Hey, there are kids here! I keep thinking she's got Cappie in there somewhere as an extra. Not sure if want. At least she's better than Angel McCoughtry in that respect. I shouldn't be thinking that I want the headphones that keep popping up, though. And we immediately MST'd the "I'm Sorry" message on the Garden marquee with "your game is in another arena".
The thundersticks are uninspired. They will not be going on the wall unless we need to fill the whole thing.
I'm really hoping attendance picks up, but I think it will. A lot of the Usual Suspects are probably still loading up on BBQ. Om nom nom.
There do not appear to be any shinies in the arena. No awards for you, Libs. Not that you deserved any.
Definitely not one of the usual stable of announcers. Could be worse. We'll have a better idea when the game gets going.
There's a lot of lost-looking people in the aisles. I think they're trying to get a lot of comps out.
The girl group that did the anthem has done a Garden performance before. They were just as awful the second time as they were the first time. Please, either coordinate your outfits or be completely different. A matching jacket does not an outfit make. I'd just generally prefer if they didn't perform at Liberty games at all.
Hey! We were promised the Shabazz band. Why are there guys on trampolines in the middle of the court? I want awesome high school band music, not jumping Canadians. If I wanted jumping Canadians, I'd be watching Indiana.
The first five minutes of this game, when the Sun didn't have a field goal and the Liberty were out to a 14-point lead, were the most energetic I've heard the Prudential Center in a while, possibly ever. The place was rocking. The energy dimmed a bit when the Sun counter-punched, but it feels like a playoff game in here. 33-27 at the half, and it was a patchwork of good performances. Kara Braxton started well, Kia was doing work in the middle, everyone was hitting. The Sun seemed a little frazzled, though the second timeout stabilized them a bit, and I don't know why Thibault stuck with McCray so long when she was in over her head.
The latecomers in this game are really starting to rub me the wrong way. Why would you wander in at halftime? Either get here on time or get out of my line of sight.
And that's the end of it. And I'm okay with that. I don't know if it's that I've reached serenity or if it's that we gave it all we had or if I want Connecticut to get closer to that elusive title or if I'm just tired of going to Newark, but I'm not angry, except maybe at PATH and this train that's terminating at Journal Square.
The Danielle McCray experiment ran entirely too long this game. She missed her shots badly, she missed passes badly, and generally just looked out of place and in over her head. I was surprised he kept her in for as long as he did. He usually doesn't give her that many chances to make mistakes. Tan White brought a little bit of theatrics and a lot of hustle. Mistie Mims found herself open at times I felt were a bit inopportune, and she took advantage of them pretty much every time. She mixed it up in the paint, as well. Renee Montgomery was mostly an energy player in this one, though I think part of how she fired her teammates up was by running her mouth and throwing her body at Liberty players. Someday, someone's not going to take her behavior well and is going to send her into the third row. She had one exchange with Leilani Mitchell where an elbow was thrown- not a full-fledged "would you like a side of concussion with your headache?" elbow, but the sort of nudge you give someone when they're attempting to steal your armrest in a tight airplane seat.
Allison Hightower just finds ways to get things done. She only had the one make, but it was a beauty. She just kept on keeping on, working the boards and playing D. Kalana Greene didn't play much- she got a little shaken up early, so maybe that had something to do with it, but it might just have been that Renee Montgomery was more effective and he liked what White was bringing to the table more. We kept leaving Kara Lawson open beyond the arc for no reason I could discern, and she kept hitting shots from beyond the arc for the obvious reason that she is a really good three-point shooter. She stole away a lot of rebounds, too. The assists were harder to notice. I think Asjha Jones maybe heard the whispers that she'd lost a step and wasn't the All-Star player she used to be, because she absolutely abused us from the free throw line extended area. Her turnaround jumper was on fire. All-around, she was solid- and solid may seem like an underwhelming word for what she did, but we're talking vein of granite reaching deep under the earth's crust solid here, the foundation on which the Sun built their game. And Tina Charles topped it all off by going into full beast mode. The guy behind us kept screaming, "Guard Patrick Ewing!" and I think he was talking about her. I don't know if the comparison beyond "dominating center who mostly plays in the paint" is accurate, especially since this was a bit of an anomaly in terms of Charles actually parking in the lane, but she was quite overpowering today. She played like an MVP and a #1 pick. But we just had to have Sidney Spencer...
We got to bring out the dive cards for DeMya Walker- if she's back in the league anywhere, in any capacity, next season, I'll put up the template and you too can have a set of DeMya Walker Dive-O-Meter cards to gauge your team's ability to hit the deck. She was using her body hard in the paint, but mostly to clear space and on defense. Leilani Mitchell was not as bad as she was on Thursday, but she was still in over her head, and I don't think there's much room for her with the Liberty if Pondexter's going to be the starting point guard and Carson's going to be the starting off guard. (Or vice versa.) Alex Montgomery gave us ten unremarkable minutes, with her only shot coming off a deflection by Lawson (we joked that Lawson should get credit for the assist). I'm looking at the plus/minus here on the train, and I just don't get it. It didn't feel like she was responsible for us being -12 with her in the game. Kia Vaughn worked hard on the boards- sometimes a little too hard, with fouls of questionable sense- and I'd have liked to see her be more aggressive trying to score. But she gave us a lot, and I appreciate it.
Cappie Pondexter, you don't have to be the hero all the time. She played well in the first half, but when Connecticut took over in the second half, she started panicking and taking long shots early in the clock. And throwing that interception into double coverage late in the fourth quarter was just ridiculous. She's been asked to do a little bit of everything, and I appreciate that she didn't have an Asjha Jones like Tina Charles did, but sometimes you can't do everything. Kara Braxton started both games like someone had lit a fire under her, going to the hole at one end and snagging passes on the other- I think both halves started with Braxton getting a basket and getting a steal in Connecticut's frontcourt on the ensuing possession- but wore down and got frustrated. It was nice to see Kara get going, but she doesn't have the stamina to keep up that kind of awesome. Or the stamina to keep up that kind of anything, really. That's an issue we're going to have to look at for 2013. I don't know what to think about Nicole Powell. She wasn't bad, per se, but she had a couple of bone-headed plays in the second half that looked like they were turning the tide. It also looked like Lawson had her number the way she had Lawson's number on Thursday. I think some of the close defense got to her. I also don't know what to make of Plenette Pierson. It might have been that she was working hard against Charles and especially Jones all night and therefore didn't have much left in the tank on the other end, but we didn't get to see nearly enough of that ridiculously high jump shot or that sweeping scoop. At least she didn't seem to be in as much pain as she was on Thursday. Essence Carson kept leaving shots in odd places on the rim, but her defense was better than it was in Game 1.
Wonderful, we've got a loud, crazy, racist woman on the train. I am so glad I'm not coming back from Newark late at night again for several months.
The officiating was uneven, a surprise for a crew that included Tom Mauer and Felicia Grinter. (Then again, it also included Roy Gulbeyan.) There was one play where three players hit the floor after someone got pulled down going for a rebound, and there was nothing called on anyone. They were also letting everyone get away with the NBA's extra step, which surprises me with three veteran WNBA refs. It could always be worse, but it wasn't great.
The crowd was loud and into it for almost all of the game- we really only ran out of steam when Connecticut took over. Been a long time since a Liberty game rocked that well. Reminded me a little of those Eastern Conference Championship years. Not completely- you'd need twice as many people in the arena and a better team on the floor- but it was nice.
I caught a t-shirt! But it was a medium, so I gave it to the girl two rows in front of me. Her parents were both appreciative.
It was hard to say goodbye to all the Usual Suspects, and that's the hardest part of the end of the season. The best part of having season tickets is fellow fans and good neighbors. We'll see many of them again in college season, I'm sure- if nothing else, the Maggie Dixon Classic in December will gather everyone up again- but it's not the same. There isn't the same sense of shared neutral ground, because people cheer for different college teams. There isn't the depth of history and knowledge that comes from fifteen years of cheering for the same team.
We gave it all we had and it wasn't enough. In the end, that's all you can ask for. You can only give what you have. Good luck, Connecticut. You deserve it.
First Round playoff games continue today with the New York Liberty looking to even the score against the Connecticut Sun, and the San Antonio Silver Stars looking to do the same against the Los Angeles Sparks. Should they fail, they go home. All of today's games are on NBA TV or via online streaming through LiveAccess.
The other four teams playoff qualifiers begin play postseason play tonight at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPN2.
A 12-0 second half run broke a 45-45 tie and propelled the Connecticut Sun to a Game 1 victory over the New York Liberty, 65-60. 17 points and four blocks from newly crowned MVP Tina Charles led the way for the Sun, with Asjha Jones just missing a double-double at 10 points and nine rebounds.
Swish Appeal user 3r1n has posted a printable bracket for the 2012 WNBA playoffs.
Click here to check it out.
Be sure to follow the instructions closely.
The WNBA is not only kicking off the playoffs from Mohegan Sun, but also the awards season - and in a big way. Your 2012 WNBA Player of the Year is none other than:
She received 345 points (25 first-place votes), followed by Candace Parker (253 points), Tamika Catching (210 points) and Maya Moore (128 points). In total, 16 women received points in this year's voting.
After four consecutive years of DeWanna Bonner, Montgomery took the top spot after garnering 23 (of 41) votes for Sixth Woman of the Year. She was followed in the voting by Danielle Adams (9 votes) and Jia Perkins (6 votes). Erlana Larkins, Monica Wright and Avery Warley all received one vote each.
Lawson nabbed 18 (of 41) votes to earn the award honoring a player who exemplifies the ideals of sportsmanship - ethical behavior, fair play and integrity. This is her second selection for this honor, also winning in 2009. Second in the voting was Becky Hammon (5 votes), with Alana Beard and DeWanna Bonner both getting three votes apiece.
If all these Tiffany blue boxes wasn't enough, it was announced that Mohegan Sun will be the site of the 2013 WNBA All-Star festivities on July 27. This will mark the third occasion the venue will host the All-Star event, also tapped in 2005 and 2009.
Head on over to our Thursday night open thread to contribute your thought's on tonight's action.
Up first is the New York Liberty vs. the Connecticut Sun at 8 p.m. ET where the Tiffany blue boxes are already flying. Connecticut's Tina Charles was honored as WNBA Most Valuable Player and Renee Montgomery was name Sixth Woman of the Year. Also, Kara Lawson picked up some hardware of her own, the Kim Perrot Sportsmanship Award.
This game will be followed by the San Antonio Silver Stars vs. the Los Angeles Sparks in a series where no one really has home court advantage.
Because of Batman Live being scheduled in Staples Center in advance, the Sparks will play at Galen Center at the University of Southern California (USC). That just happens to be a rival of Nneka's alma mater, but at the same time, the same fans that helped the Sparks get a 16-1 record at home will try do the same at USC for this playoff matchup.
So get to stepping over to threadville, it's almost game time!
The 2012 WNBA Playoffs begins with a
fizzle? bang as the fourth-seeded New York Liberty take a trip up I-95 to face familiar foes in the Connecticut Sun, the be(a)st of the East.
Two Indiana Fever starters have been out for over a week after sustaining concussion-like injuries in a Sept. 17 game against the Minnesota Lynx. It looks like Indiana might have to prepare for the contingency that the duo will be watching from the bench in the playoffs as well.