The Minnesota Lynx swept the L.A. Sparks to advance to the WNBA finals for the 2nd straight year. They'll be defending their WNBA title against the winner of the Connecticut-Indiana series, probably the Sun who lead that series 1 game to none.
The Lynx nipped the Sparks 80-79, making this the 2nd straight series in which the deciding game was won by a single point. But while the Seattle series win was, well, unimpressive, this one is impressive with a capital IMPRESSIVE. That's the difference between winning at home and winning on the road. And it's the difference between desperately hanging on to a once-comfortable lead and roaring back from behind.
The Lynx trailed L.A. 65-52 at 0:46 of the 3rd period and 65-57 to start the 4th. They caught up and took the lead at 73-72 with 5 minutes still to play. In other words, they out-scored the Sparks 21-7 over just 5:46 as Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen each contributed 3 buckets. L.A. regained the lead at 74-73 and 79-77, and Moore hit a pair of throws and Rebekah Brunson scored (how else?) off the offensive glass. A Monica Wright 3 at 1:14 put Minnesota back out front, and Alana Beard missed a pair of shots inside of 1 minute.
The Lynx' finish followed a terrible 3rd period in which L.A. had a 17-0 run.
In game 1 the Lynx held L.A., a solid rebounding team, to a ridiculous 1 offensive rebound and out-scored them 20-2 on 2nd chance points. In game 2 L.A. grabbed an equally ridiculous 18 offensive boards...and lost. At home, where they were 16-1 this year going into tonight's game. 17 turnovers didn't help, nor 5-of-10 FT shooting.
Augustus, Moore and Whalen finished with 21, 20 and 17 points. Brunson contributed 10 boards, while Taj McWilliams-Franklin and Whalen had 5 assists apiece. Candace Parker was all-world for L.A. with 33 points and 15 boards.
Once again, here are the Lynx' keys to victory:
Inside D: Grade D
3-Ball: Grade B (Lynx hit 7-of-18, L.A. 4-fo-17)
The good Lindsay shows: Grade B+
Maya steps up: Grade B+
Blocking and tackling: C (out-rebounded badly and allowed L.A. to shoot 47 percent)
And yet they won on the road. This was every bit as impressive as the Seattle series was not.