LOS ANGELES, CA -- As the first half came to a close, Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson had but one simple message for her team.
“Leave everything you have out there [the court],” Brunson said. “We’ve got to move around and be available for each other. That’s what we always need to do.”
Little did Brunson know at halftime, she would be the one to lead her team to an 80-69 victory over the Sparks and the shot at another WNBA Championship.
Holding the record for Finals games played at 19, the 6’2” Washington D.C. native is no stranger to success and the hard work that comes along with victory. The first few minutes of Game 4 began a lot like those of Games 1 through 3.
The Sparks, specifically Nneka Ogwumike, set fire to the court offensively. The quick-paced Los Angeles team refused to be stopped by Minnesota’s passive defense.
It was then that Brunson assessed the problem and began dedicating her own personal game to fixing it.
“I think throughout this series, we kind of understand that rebounding is key. It's a huge part of both teams' identities, and we know that we wanted to set the tone with that,” explained Brunson in the post-game conference. She alone ended the game with 13 rebounds. That toughness and commitment to getting hands on the ball at any cost is why the Lynx took home the victory.
Minnesota is a team known for their grit and resilience and led by Brunson, the Lynx played Game 4 with the same sense of urgency and desperation that carried them to the play-offs.
“You need your stars to play like stars,” said Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve after Game 3. And Brunson, being one of those stars, took that message to heart.
“I absolutely felt like I needed to bring more energy tonight, and I was hoping that my team would be able to feed off of that,” Brunson said. “I think that I just need to continue to go out there and be aggressive and play hard.”
The aggression that Brunson brought landed her 18 points, making her the second-highest scorer in the game. Once she dictated the new upbeat tempo, the rest of the team followed suit, and the Lynx couldn’t be stopped.
For the Lynx, a team who has been to the WNBA Finals six times in the past seven years, a 2017 championship will only add to their long list of accolades and achievements. However, a win means more for Brunson. If Minnesota takes home the 2018 title, Brunson will become the first player in history to win five WNBA Championship titles (she won her first in 2005 with the Sacramento Monarchs).
Even with so much at stake, Brunson is managing to keep a level head.
“Nothing is guaranteed. It doesn't matter where you're playing, but you just have to go out there and be prepared for anything to happen. You never really know what's going to happen out there, so you just have to go out there and leave it all out there…we just have to go out there and play.”
Brunson and the Lynx will head back to the Williams Arena in Minneapolis to take on the Sparks in the winner-take-all Game 5 on Wednesday, Oct. 4 at 8 pm ET.