How do you handle change?
Change is an alteration, a shift from the way things were. In the Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, the Lynx had to adjust perpetually in order to pull out a win against Indiana.
Normal: Sylvia Fowles covered in the paint.
One contributing factor in the loss to the Fever in Game 2 was the coverage on Fowles in the paint. On average, Fowles was contributing 21 points a game. Two to three Indiana players were surrounding her 6'6'' frame to keep her from racking up points on the boards. In the first quarter of Game 3, the Fever gave Fowles two shot attempts, both of which she made.
"Well, everybody wants to watch offense. I just thought it was really, really well played in that arena," said Head Coach Reeve. "It's two good defensive teams. Indiana's style is fun to watch..."
Fowles ended the game with only eight of the 32 points in the paint accumulated by the team.
Change: Fowles used her height and teammates' strengths.
Sylvia pulled down eight rebounds defensively in the win, five of which contributed to points. Her monumental defensive rebound came with 1:24 left in the game when teammate Renee Montgomery made the 24-foot three-pointer to tie it at 77. Furthermore, Fowles distributed the ball around the key for higher percentage looks throughout the contest. She had two assists on the night, along with three offensive rebounds and 11 points.
Normal: The Lynx bench assisted the team with momentum.
Minnesota's bench, consisting of three vital players, Devereaux Peters, Anna Cruz and Montgomery, played lots of minutes thus far. The three scored a total of 14 points in the win of Game 2, keeping the team refreshed and energized. In Game 3, it was a different atmosphere for the trio.
"You look down the Lynx stat sheet and all the people that got double figures, Maya coming in, I mean, we did our job on other people‑‑ on the people we wanted to, but we let other people step up, and we can't afford to do that," said Fever's Tamika Catchings.
Change: Teammates came to the rescue after Moore is on the bench.
In Game 2, Maya Moore played 39 minutes and had 19 points. In Friday's match, Moore had three fouls in the start of the second quarter.
"It's not a situation that I want to be in," said Moore. "I don't want to put my team in that situation. They thankfully played through my lack of good judgment for those moments, and really stepped up. Our bench played wonderful."
Moore played only 22 minutes in this game total; yet, had game's best 24 points. If it weren't for her teammates, the game would not have been as tight-knit.
"I thought our bench was big," said Reeve. "I thought each player; they got an opportunity gave us good penetration when we needed it..."
Peters, Cruz and Montgomery had a combined 28 points, eight assists, and four steals. In fact, Cruz and Montgomery played passionate basketball in the crucial parts of the fourth quarter with Moore. It was Cruz though who dished the game-tying pass to set up Montgomery's three-point shot.
"Renee has some, you know, just really, really confident moments out there where the clock is running down and her and Cruz, they just play really well together," said Reeve. "It was fun to watch and fun to see them be successful."
Normal: Moore played hungry.
Moore played with hunger because of numerous, squandered minutes on bench due to her foul trouble. Each time Moore was not on the court, the Fever went on an offensive run. At the start of the final quarter, Moore had four fouls with 12 points. Taking advantage, Indiana's Marissa Coleman knew of the foul trouble and drove in layups for easy points against Moore.
"If you've never been around Maya, she throws caution to wind at every turn, and she just plays," said Reeve. "Sometimes it goes really, really well. Other times you can pull your hair out in watching her try to do some stuff. And tonight was probably a little bit of both. But it ended where we were really happy for her."
Change: Moore played patiently.
Good players know how to shoot under pressure. Great players know how to shoot under pressure with 1.7 seconds on the clock. Moore diligently escaped the tight pressure and released the trigger with .1 second left for the buzzer beater. Her team trusted her, and she believed in her team. Without that chemistry, the element of teamwork is not a "dreamwork."
"Chemistry," said Moore. "I think it's clear to see both teams are very connected and very much about each other. We're both tough-minded teams. We're both physically tough teams that are willing to do the dirty work.
"At this time of the year, your chemistry and your will to win is really what's going to separate you, because everyone's talented... That's why this series has been so phenomenal."
Moore made 12 points in the fourth, and completed 10 of her 18 attempts. She shot 57% from three-point range. Minnesota shot a remarkable 51.6%.
For the Lynx, Game 3 demonstrated more than just the usual routine of playing hard for players like Seimone Augustus, Fowles and Moore.
It was simply about adjusting to change to create winning plays.
"The players making plays. That's what I love about this game. I can speak for myself. I can't speak for Steph," said Reeve. "We're trying to guide them a little bit. But this is the epitome of what I tell our players what the Finals are about. Coaches are going to spend all their time worrying and strategizing. What when it comes down to it, players out there just playing and making plays is what it's all about.
"And I thought this game epitomized it."