After Fever upset Lynx in WNBA Finals Game 1, intensity buildsOctober 16, 2012
The Indiana Fever picked up a key road win in their quest for a WNBA championship Sunday night by edging out the defending champion Minnesota Lynx 76-70 in front of 14,322 at Target Center.
It was an evenly matched contest with five ties and five lead changes. The Fever’s largest lead was 10 while the Lynx mustered up a lead of four. Yet with both teams having a potent offense and tough defense, it was Indiana center Erlana Larkins who came up big. She netted 20 points and came up with 15 rebounds. Half of the Fever’s rebounds came from Larkins.
“We needed a rebounder. We needed another post player inside that complimented the post players we already had, someone that would be physically tough, aggressive, and Larkins fit the bill,” said Indiana head coach Linn Dunn. “It doesn’t surprise me that she is playing like she is because she continued to get better the whole season, through both of our two training camps while learning our system. Her effort and her intensity and her hustle and her toughness was there from day one.”
In the WNBA Finals, Larkins is all business.
“I knew I had the ability to play with some of the best, because they come overseas and we play against them. I do the same thing overseas. I think as a team we’re shocking everybody because nobody thinks we’re supposed to be here and everybody thinks Minnesota is going to beat us, but that isn’t the case and we’re not going down without a fight,” she said.
But if there is one thing about the WNBA, there is a lot of respect among the competitors. It won’t take long before Minnesota Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve and her company of All-Star post players figure out how to stop her.
“I don’t know Larkins that well, but clearly she was a player that listened to whatever advice she got – whether it was the coaches when they cut her or people like Taj (McWilliams-Franklin). You go overseas and you have to figure it out. You have a choice, you can think it was everybody else’s fault except yours or you can accept the information, absorb it and imply it and clearly she did,” said Reeve.
Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson is already looking forward to the battle in Game 2.
“We have to find her early and put a body on her. She is aggressive and she is going to keep going – that’s the reason she is out here. She is going to go and crash [the boards] and get them some extra possessions. We have to match her will and match her intensity,” said Brunson regarding Larkins performance in Game 1.
Now that the final series of the 2012 WNBA championship is underway, both teams are looking for the competitive edge that will bring them the championship. Monday was a day of watching film and making preparations for the important next game.
Lynx guard Seimone Augustus knows that her team understands what is needed in order to even the series.
“We just got to come out and be more aggressive on the defensive end. We had a few little mishaps here and there,” said Augustus. “Our team is composed of a lot of talented players that can to score the basketball, so that’s not our main concern, but defensively we definitely want to try to get out there more and get to action a little bit more than we did in Game 1.”
Indiana guard Erin Phillips knows that Wednesday’s contest is going to be a challenge.
“We’re expecting a totally different team. They’re going to come in so hungry, so aggressive – they’re the defending champions and they’re here for the second time for a reason. They’re a great team. We have to get better, we can’t just sit around and be satisfied that we won Game 1 and give ourselves a pat on the back and that’s it. It’s going to be a much harder game,” she said.
Fever forward Tamika Catchings also knows that the atmosphere will be different for Game 2.
“We know that they’re going to come out Wednesday and they’re going to be a much different team and much better. And for us, we have to continue to get better too. We have to make adjustments, and I think it’s going to be an even more physical game on Wednesday, and we’ve got to be ready,” said Catchings.
For two teams that are evenly matched, everybody is expecting a long series. The Lynx are not pressing the panic button nor are the Fever celebrating a championship they haven’t earned yet. Its business as usual for the players and coaches, each knowing that Wednesday will be another key date in the 2012 WNBA season annals.
“[We have a] very high sense of urgency. All that matters right now is Game 2. We’re looking forward to it; we wish it was right now,” said Lynx forward Maya Moore.
Augustus said, “I think that we got a lot of competitors on our team that really hate to lose, so I guess in Game 2 you’ll see the difference. You’ll see us come out and be a little bit more aggressive from start to finish – we’re going to play and give it all that we have.”
Game 2 of the WNBA Finals is set for Wednesday October 17 at 7 p.m. CT at the Target Center in Minneapolis. ESPN2 will carry the game live.