MINNEAPOLIS, MN — The Minnesota Lynx evened the WNBA Finals series 1-1 on Tuesday night when it beat the Los Angeles Sparks 79-60 at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Here are three of the biggest takeaways from the game:
An Even Series Headed to Los Angeles
Had Minnesota lost Tuesday night’s game, they would have found themselves in a 0-2 series hole, something that is very hard to come back from in a best-of-5 series.
And now that they’re headed to Los Angeles on Friday for Game 3 of the WNBA Finals, an even series makes it that much easier for the Lynx to stay alive.
“Having a win tonight was crucial,” said Lynx forward Maya Moore. “We’re still going to take everything that we learned from Game 1, learning from Game 2 and going into Game 3. It’s a whole new ballgame, and it’s going to be probably the most intense game so far, because it’s Game 3, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Game 3 of the series will take place at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, and will be the first time the Sparks get to play at home in the series.
And while many would see a significant advantage for the Sparks getting to play at home, Sparks guard Alana Beard doesn’t see it that way.
“I think at this point in the season there are no advantages,” Beard said. “It’s two of the best teams going at each other. They have the experience. They’ve won championships. We’re still trying to get ours.
“In terms of advantages, no. But it’ll be good to sleep in your own bed.”
Maya Moore production early, often
In Game 1 of the series, Moore was held scoreless in the first half.
Her offensive troubles weren’t stalled on Tuesday, though. Moore opened up the game with 12 first-half points, and finished with a double-double of 21 points and 12 rebounds.
“Maya responded,” said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve. “Everybody asked me, ‘How do I think Maya is going to respond from Game 1?’ and I said, ‘If I know Maya, I know Maya hasn’t slept, and Maya probably wanted to play yesterday and get right back to it.
“I think Maya more than anything just wanted for our team to play the way we’re capable of playing, and I thought she gave us a big lift with her focus [and] her intensity.”
For Moore, though, her offensive production in Game 1 wasn’t a factor.
She was just playing basketball.
“Tonight, it happened a little more balanced throughout the game,” Moore said. “The last game it happened in one-half. I’m just continuing to try to be aggressive and try to help my team.”
In Game 1, Minnesota out-rebounded Los Angeles 32-24.
On Tuesday, it was a very similar story.
The Lynx outrebounded the Sparks 46-32, and absolutely dominated them on the offensive glass. They had 13 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 second-chance points.
“Our guards are going to need to rebound defensively a little bit more,” said Sparks coach Brian Agler. “But they’re a good rebounding team. That’s a strength of theirs. That’s not necessarily a great strength of ours, and so we’re not going to all of a sudden become the best rebounding team in the country, but we’ve got to be more competitive there.”
Reeve said she knows how important rebounding is in the span of a game, and was glad that they were able to take advantage of it on Tuesday. Without it, she said, the game would have been a different story.
“I think there’s only one statistic that maybe there’s a separator between two teams, and it’s rebounding,” Reeve said, “so we might as well try to use it to our advantage, and it gives you the extra possessions.”
Beard agreed with Agler, saying the biggest problem was getting beat on the glass.
Heading into Game 3, Beard knows it’s going to take a much more team-oriented effort on the glass, too.
“Give more. Box out more. Rebound as a team,” Beard said. “We can’t just depend on one person or two people to rebound. The guards have to get in there and help our bigs out too.”