My responsibility for this assignment is to come up with a coherent way to describe, analytically, what won and what lost the game. I've been statistical analysis my entire tenure at Swish Appeal, so this was not unfamiliar to me. I figured I'd look at some the stuff I did in the preview, write about three pages, and give the old Hunter Bishop stamp of approval, and be on my merry way.
Well, it turns out, my job is even easier than that: the difference between these two teams starts with an M and ends with an E. The difference between these two teams that shot near identical field goal percentages, that shot well above average and well above good and well above great from beyond the arc, that grabbed 27 (Lynx) and 28 (Fever) rebounds, was Maya Moore.
Moore had 24 points on 10-18 shooting, including 4-7 from beyond the arc. Her performance this playoffs reminds me of what LeBron did against the Warriors a few months ago.
This Lynx team is built to beat the hell out of you; Fowles and Brunson alone make that clear. Her offensive genius, combined with Seimone Augustus's and the rebounding and defense of Fowles and Brunson, make this team fit together like puzzle pieces.
This is the best team of the last five years; they've been to four finals, won two of them, and are on the brink of taking a third. You do not get this far, this often, with these results without being a well-constructed team. You can catch fire, win one title; sure.
But to continually go deep into the playoffs, and win like this? You have to be truly, truly good. Seimone Augustus is a former #1 overall pick, and has been an integral part of this dynasty, winning a title and finishing as the Finals MVP.
I've tried to look deeper into this game, and find something that puts one team over the other, but I really, honestly can't. They are so dead even, numbers-wise, that it's just always going to come down to the last minute. The Lynx have the advantage, because the Lynx have more star power, but Indiana isn't going away.
I can't find any pattern in the numbers I'm looking at; I'm repeating myself now, but it's going to come down to how the best players on each team play. If Catchings can turn back the clock and match Moore step for step, the Fever could win.
I predicted Lynx in three, and looking back, that was a stupid choice. I just didn't buy into the idea of the Fever being able to hold on. However, they've been extremely well-coached, and they've hung tough, and they are only a few plays away from being one up in this series. I'll keep digging through the stats to try and find something worthwhile to say next time.
But honestly, this is my favorite kind of basketball. Two even-keeled teams, trading punches, until the last bell. It's my favorite in all sports, really; blowouts in championships are only fun for the winning team, and they don't feel nearly the same. I hope that the Lynx and Fever continue to defy the numbers, and me by extension, because, as a fan, I couldn't be happier.