Defending champions fall hard in WNBA finals

Every basketball fan was happy to see Tamika Catchings hold her first Women’s National Basketball Association trophy, but the question remains: What happened to defending champion the Minnesota Lynx?

The Lynx lost the finals series three games to one. The team’s only victory was at home in game two. The slimmest margin of defeat for the Lynx was six points in game one. At one point in game three, the Indiana Fever led the Lynx 70-33, which is the largest lead by any team in WNBA Finals history.

Neither Seimone Augustus nor Maya Moore scored in the double digits in game three, and the team’s defense was lackluster. Indiana seemed like they were playing 10 times harder, and the Lynx were trying but they just could not cool the Fever. Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve spoke on the team’s defense after the game three loss.

“I think Indiana played the way Indiana always plays,” Reeve said. “They defend. You defend, you have a chance to win a championship. That’s it.”

The series was emotional and physical on both ends. Reeve was a hot topic after screaming and throwing her jacket during game two for getting a technical foul. Maybe that was the type of energy the Lynx needed in order to get a win.

Moore could not stay out of foul trouble, which hurt her and the team by never allowing her to get in a great rhythm. Whenever she was in the game, Moore was heavily guarded by the likes of Catchings and a variety of defensive sets from the Fever.

The Fever defense hindered Augustus from finding the bottom of the net many times throughout the series. In the final game of the series, Augustus was 3-for-21 from the field and a total of 6-for-30 in the last two games of the series. Those types of numbers are never good from your leading scorer, especially when no one else is making up for it. Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen did score 22 points in the series finale, but that was not enough.

“They played good defense,” Whalen said. “They contested shots and they made it tough for us to get in the lane a little bit. I think that was the theme of the whole series. They were just tough, and give them credit for the way they played.”

The Lynx lost against a team that was short two guards, including second-leading scorer Katie Douglas. As the defending champions, Minnesota had a humongous target on their back, which made getting back to the finals a war in itself.

Minnesota had what Indiana wanted, and the Fever did everything in their power to take the national championship. They wanted it for the city, they wanted it for the team and they wanted it for Catchings.

There have only been two teams to repeat as WNBA champions, with the last being the Los Angeles Sparks in 2001 and 2002. Minnesota will have to regroup for next season and come out with a vengeance to reclaim its title. This year’s disappointing finals performance will surely be in the back of their minds, and it will be interesting to see how they respond from the beginning to the end of the 2013 season.

 

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