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Lynx complete their dream season

Game 3 turned out to be yet another illustration that this Minnesota Lynx team can win any kind of basketball game you happen to drag them into. Both teams looked a little tired, McWilliams-Franklin played 33 minutes on one-and-a-half legs, and McCoughtry finished 9-25 for 22 points. Forcing Minnesota into 20 turnovers on the night should’ve given the Dream a chance to win, but in the end they didn’t have the weapons, and McCoughtry didn’t get enough help. Her repeated insistence on trying to take over on her own doesn’t always help, but the rest of the team went 18-53 as a group, and that wasn’t going to cut it. Harding’s 1-5 for four points was frankly pathetic, and somewhat shocking after her willingness to attack Whalen in the opening two games; de Souza did her job on the glass but she and Lyttle were a combined 7-23 from the floor, which was nowhere near good enough even against Minnesota’s strong interior defense; Price had probably her best game of the series, but when that’s 3-7 for six points, it says more about her prior performances than this one; and Castro Marques was 4-12 for nine points, on one of those nights where her streakiness never really came back around in Atlanta’s favour. They tried everything they could to beat this Lynx team, and came up short in various different types of game.

 

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same result.

The coaches tweaked their line ups a tad, and got mixed results (Maya Moore’s Routine Layup That Shifted Momentum In The Minnesota Lynx’ 2011 WNBA Finals Victory). Minnesota  and Atlanta put their defense shoes on and kept the scoring low. Unfortunately for fans who wanted to see this fun match up continue for two more games, Atlanta couldn’t pull off the win, and they suffered the second Finals sweep of their short existence.

“When it comes to this point, it just comes down to who makes the best plays,” Dream guard Lindsey Harding said. “It was close; they just made more plays.”

It’s almost unfair to call it a “sweep.” Writes Mechelle:

Before a crowd of 11,543 Friday, Atlanta almost engineered a fourth-quarter rally to send the series to a Game 4. The Dream pulled within one point on Iziane Castro Marques’s 3-pointer with 1 minute, 17 seconds left, as the arena went bonkers. But the Lynx held off the Dream by making enough of their free throws, combined with some missed shots from Atlanta.

There were way too many of those Friday for the Dream, who were 27-of-78 from the field (34.6 percent). Atlanta took 17 more shots than Minnesota (26-of-61) but simply didn’t make enough of them.

Say James Bowman: All that Reigns in Atlanta is Woe

For Atlanta’s fans, coming to terms with a 73-67 Game Three loss in the WNBA Finals on their home court to the Minnesota Lynx – the third of three losses to the new WNBA champions – will be a difficult process.

I’ve already gone through the classic Kubler-Ross stages myself.

As for Los Lynx: Title was a long time coming for Lynx – Franchise that once failed to reach the playoffs for six straight seasons is now a champ

Seimone Augustus knew the salt water would come. She’d held in so much over the years, persevered through disappointments, kept her head up during emotional and physical pain.

This season, as it became clear that things really were coming together for her Minnesota Lynx, Augustus sometimes let herself picture a perfect ending.

“Just envisioning it and imagining it while sitting around my house, I’d get teary-eyed,” Augustus said before Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. “My mom always said, ‘Never cry over basketball.’ Because she always looked at it like recreation. I’ve told her, ‘Mom, it’s more than that.’

“It’s my career. It’s almost like my life — this is what I eat, sleep, breathe.”

And Friday, it was indeed what she cried about — but they were the happiest tears she has ever shed.

At espnW, Joanne Gerstner writes: Rookie and veteran share championship moment

Minnesota Lynx starting center Taj McWilliams-Franklin didn’t want to let this emotional moment pass without letting rookie guard Maya Moore know how special she is.

The Lynx had just won the franchise’s first WNBA title, taking Game 3, 73-67, over the Dream for the series sweep at Philips Arena Friday. Joyous pandemonium reigned, with Lynx players dancing, hugging and screaming for joy over the din of the celebratory music.

McWilliams-Franklin grabbed Moore and hugged her, then whispered in her ear:

“Your heart is right. You have right attitude, humility. You are a sweet kid, raised properly; all these things follow good kids. This is just the start of many titles for you, enjoy this,” McWilliams-Franklin recounted.

What are the Five things we learned from the WNBA Finals?

Key phrase at the end of SBNation Minnesota? “We hope to expand our coverage of the Lynx significantly going into the 2012 WNBA season.”

Jim Souhan writes: Lynx win a title, redemption and new credibility

They developed into the ideal group to promote their sport as well as win a title: A physical, defensive-minded team that could run a fast break featuring behind-the-back dribbles and reverse layups.

“I’m just glad that we were able to finish it off playing Lynx basketball,” Moore said.

Lynx basketball. It wasn’t too long ago that “Lynx basketball” was a punchline in the Twin Cities. Friday night, that phrase became a beacon of excellence, and perhaps even hope.

Oh, and it looks like Tim got there:

It had been 20 years of waiting for a professional championship to return to Minnesota.

What were a few more minutes?

The Minnesota Lynx on Friday night waited like antsy children on Christmas morning to bust loose and celebrate the end of a two-decade championship drought. Someone was missing from the celebratory gathering, however, and team protocol demanded they wait until everyone was assembled.

When coach Cheryl Reeve finally arrived, the showering of champagne began.

I’m sure fans are already planning to call in sick: Champion Lynx arriving home this afternoon, parade planned for Tuesday

Okay. How long until the State Farm Tipoff?

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Swish Appeal. (Yes, Nate did finally cave and make a prediction.)

2011 WNBA Finals Series Preview: Key Players, Stats, and A Prediction

The 2011 WNBA Finals might be the toughest to predict in some time.

As well as the Atlanta Dream have been playing in the latter part of the season and through the playoffs, we can hardly say for sure that they’re done peaking, particularly with center Erika de Souza expected back some time during the Finals. And even if Iziane Castro Marques doesn’t continue scoring the way she did in the Eastern Conference Finals, they’ve been so impressive adjusting to circumstances that it’s hard to know what might stop them consistently.

And then there’s the Minnesota Lynx, who just have the league’s best record and methodically eliminated the Phoenix Mercury in the Western Conference Finals.

So who will win the series?

2011 WNBA Finals: Rebekkah Brunson Leads Minnesota Lynx to 88-74 Game 1 Win

Minnesota Lynx Once Again Show Off Their Impressive Balance In Game 1 Of The 2011 WNBA Finals

And I know who should perform at halftime next game.

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and pull out your reading glasses. From Richard:

WNBA Finals Mega-Preview Part 3: The Bigs – Brunson/McWilliams-Franklin vs. Lyttle/?

Here’s where this series gets really interesting. Despite the strength of their bench, Minnesota have relied heavily on their starting five all season long. That group contains two true post players in rebounding demon Rebekkah Brunson and everyone’s favourite WNBA septuagenarian, Taj McWilliams-Franklin (she’s actually only 40, but the ‘Taj is old’ jokes never get old).

In the second half of the season, Atlanta had a very similar reliance on their starting five, including the quickness and length of Sancho Lyttle at power forward and size and strength of Erika de Souza at center. But when de Souza left to play for Brazil in the FIBA Americas tournament after Game 1 of the Eastern Finals, the Dream went small. Lyttle was generally the only post on the floor, occasionally spelled by backup Alison Bales, and wing Iziane Castro Marques had two outstanding games as de Souza’s replacement in the starting lineup. The speed of the small lineup and Castro Marques’s shooting is essentially what carried the Dream into these Finals. de Souza is expected back in time for Game 2, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how Atlanta approach their lineups and matchups throughout this series. Is their four-perimeter player group too quick for Minnesota to handle? Or will Brunson and McWilliams-Franklin dominate that small lineup in the paint to such an extent that the Dream will be forced back to a more traditional five?

WNBA Finals Mega-Preview Part 4: The Wildcards – Moore vs. Price/Castro Marques

It might seem a little strange to consider the current Rookie of the Year, Minnesota’s second-leading scorer this season and one of the most well-known female basketball players in the USA a ‘wild card’ heading into this series. But it seems fair to me. Maya Moore admitted to some nerves in their opening playoff series against San Antonio, and when the Silver Stars had the temerity to defend her with players far smaller than her like Becky Hammon and Tully Bevilaqua she struggled to take advantage of the mismatch. She was also the primary defender being lit up when Jia Perkins caught fire and led San Antonio to a Game 2 win. But Moore improved as that series went on, then had fun firing away against Phoenix in the Western Conference Finals. Plus Penny Taylor didn’t have an awful series by accident, and it was Moore defending her for most of the two games.

Mega-Preview Part 5: The Benches

In terms of pure talent, Minnesota would appear to have more in reserve, but they haven’t exactly been proving it for most of the season. Alexis Hornbuckle, Charde Houston and this year’s 4th overall pick in the draft Amber Harris will probably see very little time in this series. Monica Wright may receive some opportunities to impress, especially if Cheryl Reeve tries to counter Atlanta’s small lineup, but she’s struggled to produce in limited chances this season. The bulk of the backup minutes are likely to go to Candice Wiggins and Jessica Adair.

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Lynx, Dream Ready to Face Off in WNBA Finals

Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve noticed at the All-Star break that teams in the league were taking a difference view of her Lynx.

Until then, most looked at Minnesota’s tremendous start with skepticism. These were the Lynx, after all. The same franchise that hadn’t made it to the postseason in six years and had never won a playoff series.

“There was so much talk that we had the best winning percentage,” Reeve said. “They became believers. There wasn’t the idea that there was going to be some kind of collapse as there had been before.”

From Roman at the Star Tribune: For Brazilians, pride is divided

Iziane (Izi) Castro Marques chose to play for her WNBA team this week instead of Brazil’s national team.

And, because the nine-year veteran stayed with Atlanta, the Dream will face the Lynx on Sunday at Target Center in the first game of the WNBA Finals. It’s a best-of-five series.

Atlanta, without Castro Marques, might have lost to Indiana in the Eastern Conference finals. The Fever won the first game of the series, and the Dream, out of necessity, made adjustments for the second because Erika de Souza did leave.

 

 

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Castro Marques enjoying Dream season

The Atlanta Dream, in just their third season of existence, are one victory from the WNBA finals. Can you believe it? Iziane Castro Marques can … even if two years ago at this time, she had to keep reminding herself that basketball is supposed to be a lot of fun. Because in 2008, it really wasn’t.

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the W All-Stars could make it a fun game:

Atlanta Dream teammates Sancho Lyttle and Iziane Castro Marques were added to the WNBA All-Star roster on Tuesday.

The pair are joined by Washington’s Crystal Langhorne, Phoenix’s Penny Taylor, Indiana’s Katie Douglas and Minnesota’s Rebekkah Brunson.

The six supplement the five players selected by the fans last month: Seattle’s Lauren Jackson, as well as San Antonio’s Becky Hammon, Jayne Appel, Michelle Snow, and Sophia Young.

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