Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

2016 WNBA Finals quotes from practice: Minnesota and Los Angeles talk about Game 2

Published on October 10, 2016

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Lynx guard Renee Montgomery looks to pass in Game 1. Photo © Lee Michaelson, all rights reserved.

The two top teams in the WNBA face off in game two of best-of-five Finals on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The Los Angeles Sparks hold the edge after defeating the Minnesota Lynx 78-76 on Sunday in game one. The Lynx are seeking a fourth title in six years. The Sparks are hunting for their first championship since 2002.

During the regular season, the Lynx led the series 2-1.

  • June 21 at Los Angeles: Lynx 72, Sparks 69
  • June 24 at Minnesota: Sparks 94, Lynx 76
  • Sept 6 at Los Angeles: Lynx 77, Sparks 74

The teams practiced and met the media on Monday. The following quotes are from the practices.

Minnesota

Head coach Cheryl Reeve

Q: What advantage will a deep bench have on this series moving forward?

Reeve: I have no idea. If they get the production out of their two and we get the same production out of our five that we got last night, there is no advantage. If our bench does what we normally do, it could be helpful and it could loom large in a longer series, but I can’t predict that.

Q: So the key adjustments would be more bench production?

Reeve: Yeah, I don’t know how you adjust to that. I think the players just have got to do what they do. They’re going to get opportunities, that’s how we’ve rolled all season. We’re not going to change that. We’re not going to suddenly shorten our rotation – maybe by the second half we shorten it if we don’t get production that we’re accustomed to getting. We saw that a little bit last night. If guards come in and have turnovers and don’t defend, we’re not going to put them back out there. And you saw that a little bit last night. I think collectively as a group the bench was not the reason we weren’t successful last night. It was collective – starters and bench. The adjustment for us is the way we go about our offense and defense needs to be at a different level.

Maya Moore

Q: On the clinic with the kids today:

Moore: I think it’s kind of an interesting timing having a clinic, but it actually works out pretty well. We get a chance to remember why we love the game so much, where we come from, how we started at their age and loving the game. I think it does just as much for us as it does for the kids.

Q: What prevented you from getting over the hump in Game 1?

Moore: We just have to continue to find pockets where we can go on runs, both defensively and offensively. Just continuing to seek those opportunities and increase our discipline in different areas so we can get on those runs.

Q: Defending those back-cuts, it seems like they got you to slip in the screen a little bit a few times. Were you prepared you for it or did it kind of take you guys off guard a little bit?

Moore: That’s one of the things. When you’re trying to pressure, when you’re trying to be aggressive, good teams and good players will try to react to that pressure. And unfortunately, they got some easy buckets in the paint, which is typically not what we want to give up. Of course we’ll make adjustments and they’ll try to continue to score in the paint because they score in the paint really well.

Q: How do you manage the highs and lows of a series like this.

Moore: You have to really rely on each other in moments like this. This team has really been doing that all season with our ability to make adjustments and bounce back. This is the greatest challenge of the season for us, having to bounce back in a tough loss at home. I’m confident that we will be better as each game goes on.

Seimone Augustus

Q: What are some of the takeaways from Game 1?

Augustus: We had a few hiccups here and there. Once we went back and looked at the video, it’s all things that we can correct, which is good. Offensively, we have to be a little bit more efficient and not have too many lost possessions where we’re not getting the shot that we want or getting into the position that we want. Defensively, we held them to 40 percent in the first half, which is something we always pride ourselves on, but we had a few players that got loose. Nneka [Ogwumike] got loose a little bit in the second half. Kristi started to hit a little bit and Chelsea Gray actually came in and gave them a big boost prior to [Alana] Beard hitting the shot. We clean up a few things on defense as well as take care of offensive possessions and we’ll be fine.

Q: Are you encouraged by winning games in L.A. this season?

Augustus: Yeah, it’s comforting to know that you can go on the road and win a game, but we didn’t want to have to do that unless it was Game 3 and we were closing it out. But things happen and we understand it’s a 200-minute series. They did what they needed to do for that first 40 minutes, and we’re going to come out and do what we need to do the second 40 minutes.

Rebekkah Brunson

Q: What are some of the takeaways from Game 1?

Brunson: We knew it would be this type of series. We knew nothing was going to come easy, but I do think there are a lot of things that we can do differently throughout the game. We just had to look at some video today to pinpoint those things.

Q: Are you encouraged knowing that your team has had success playing in L.A.?

Brunson: I just think that if we fine tune the things that we didn’t do in Game 1, we’ll be in a great position. It doesn’t matter whether we’re playing here [Minnesota] or in L.A., if we do the things that we want to do and we accomplish small little goals, I think we will be alright.

Lindsay Whalen

Q: What are your takeaways from last night’s game?

Whalen: There are things we could have done better. Give them credit. They won a good game and played really hard. They did some good things. We have to be able to learn from our mistakes in Game 1. Even though it came down to that shot, a lot of things that could have happened differently throughout the game. Give them credit. They won Game 1. Now, we have to get ready for Game 2.

Q: How does your team feel going into Game 2?

Whalen: It’s happened to us before. I’ve been in a lot of Finals. There are going to be ups and downs. There are a lot of minutes left. It’s going to be back and forth tomorrow. As you saw last night, there were a lot of momentum swings. They had the last swing of momentum. Our job tomorrow night is to be ourselves. We need to come out better tomorrow night.

Q: What adjustments are you making going into Game 2?

Whalen: We have great coaches and leaders on this team. We’ll start looking at some things that we could have done better. It came down to the last possession like it has a lot of times during the season series. We know that how it will be. We have to make sure we’re focused from the start.

Q: How did it feel to host a youth basketball clinic this afternoon?

Whalen: It was great. Every year in the Finals and you have home court, you know you’re going to host a youth basketball clinic. It’s really cool. We’ve been able to do a lot here. So, I feel like we’ve impacted a lot of young people throughout the city and state. We hope that it’s really benefitted them because it has benefitted us. It always puts a smile on your face to see so much energy in the morning. We’re happy that we’re able to host it again this year.

Sylvia Fowles

Q: What was the energy level like throughout Game 1 yesterday with game going all the way to the buzzer?

Fowles: It’s always intense when you’re in The Finals when you have two of the best teams going up against each other. I think we match up very well with LA. I think my focus is making sure I don’t mess up and make sure we get in position to put ourselves in a good place at the end of the clock.

Q: What are you focusing on personally and as a team for Game 2 on Tuesday?

Fowles: Just coming out and playing the way the Minnesota Lynx are capable of playing. I know that from the outside looking in a lot of people get caught up in Game 1, but it’s a long series. We just have to focus on the things we didn’t do so well yesterday and continue to do the things we did great and make sure we learn from a lot of those things yesterday that were not so good for us.

Los Angeles

Brian Agler

Q: Do good guards have an internal clock on when to get a shot off at the end of a game?

Agler: We usually know about what time we want to go. It usually gives us a chance to make a couple of reads. Obviously, you don’t want to do things too quick where your opponents have a chance to recover, make a play and get their own opportunity. That time it worked well for us.

Q: Has your defense always been that good at creating that number of turnovers or was yesterday abnormal?

Agler: We take a lot of pride in our defense, just like Minnesota does. If you early in the year, we were causing a lot of turnovers for our opponents – more so earlier in the year from just pressuring the ball full court. Late in the year, people scout you, and they’re ready for it and prepared for it. You’re wearing your players out by doing it. I thought we had good proactivity in the quarter court yesterday.

Q: What kind of adjustments would you expect the Lynx to make?

Agler: I expect them to make several. I think they’ll look at their own team first and try to clean some things up, whatever that might be. I’m not in their practices, so I don’t know what those things are. Then they’ll look at some of the things we’re doing and try to make adjustments from there. Then I envision them coming out and doing some things differently, maybe some things they’ve done in the past or maybe some brand new things. Specifically, I don’t know what those things will be, but hopefully we’ll be ready for them.

Essence Carson

Q: Do you need to make any adjustments after winning a very close Game 1?

Carson: I think we do need to make a few adjustments and tighten up in some areas. Everyone is really locked in though. Yesterday is yesterday – yes it definitely gave us a slight advantage, but Minnesota is a great team. We just have to prepare for Game 2 like we did for the first game and come out just as intense and focused.

Q: How will you approach Game 2?

Carson: We will approach it like Game 1. We have to be just as hungry. We can’t take any breaks and feel that since we had a Game 1 victory we can let up. We have to be even hungrier because I’m sure they will come out super aggressive. I’m sure they’re watching film and making adjustments as well, so we have to be prepared for those and be on our A game.

Q: How does winning Game 1 in Minnesota feel?

Carson: Winning on the road period definitely feels good, but winning in a place like this where they have a great fan base and great support here feels really good. We’re really focused on tuning all that out and staying focused on us. Stay within the group, don’t let anything distract us and we held it together last night. Hopefully we can pull out another one.

Candace Parker

Q: What are your takeaways from last night’s game?

Parker: We have to make adjustments as well. We can’t go into Game 2 thinking that we’re capable of doing the exact same thing in Game 1 and winning. I know that they’re going to adjust to how physical that we were defensively. They took us out of our offense a little bit. We have to maintain that fluid, side-to-side ball movement offense.

Q: What adjustments are you making going into Game 2?

Parker: We knew we were coming into a close ball game. We’ve played them close for the last couple of years. Besides possessions at the end, there can be possessions at the beginning of the game that can win the game. That’s what we constantly have to search for. That’s what makes each possession so important. I think we’ve realized that.

Q: What does Game 1 do for the team confidence?

Parker: It gives our team confidence, but we’re a team that doesn’t get too high or low. We realize that if a possession decides a game that we have a lot of work to do. We have a lot of adjustments that we have to make.

Kristi Toliver

Q: What are your takeaways from last night’s game?

Toliver: It was a highly competitive game. That’s what we expected. Every game we played game against the Lynx has been highly competitive. We wanted to come out and be aggressive on both ends of the floor. We wanted to make them uncomfortable. For the most part, I think we were able to do that. There are certainly ways we can clean a lot of things up. They’re going to be better tomorrow. Obviously, we’re happy with the overall result.

Q: What adjustments are you making going into Game 2?

Toliver: We’re going to mix it up defensively and keep it simple offensively. In these types of situations, you don’t need to run a million plays. You just have to execute certain things that you want to do. We plan on doing that.

Alana Beard

Q: Can you talk about overcoming injuries in the past and how you stay ready for yesterday’s moment (buzzer beater shot)?

Beard: It’s been a long journey for me. I think I said it before a couple of days ago that I am the type of person that I have just trained my mind to stay in the moment. Yeah, injuries I have had them. All athletes have them. It’s been a tough journey for me, just as it would have been with any other athlete, but right now it’s this moment. It’s something that I am relishing and enjoying with the special people that we have.

Q: Can you describe yesterday’s play and what was going through your mind when you got the ball?

Beard: Obviously coach drew up a play during the timeout. I knew what we were looking for and I saw that Minnesota did a great job of taking away our first two options, and I knew that I had to be ready to shoot. It was probably 1.2 seconds left and I knew I didn’t have time to pass so Chelsea (Gray) made a good drive and dished it and I had to take the shot.

Q: When it went in, what were you feeling?

Beard: It’s one of the best feelings, something that you just replay over and over in your mind, and now that moment has come. It felt good. We won the game and that’s the most important thing.

Nneka Ogwumike

Q: How are you all feeling the morning after Game 1?

Ogwumike: Good. I think we’re maintaining our focus. We’ve watched video already and are already analyzing what we need to do better in Game 2. I think everyone is understanding that Game 1 is in the past and now Game 2 is on the rise, but most specifically practice is what we’re worried about right now. We really want to sharpen some things up that we can do better in the next game.

Q: It takes three wins to bring home the WNBA Finals trophy. What are you all focusing on throughout the series?

Ogwumike: Obviously, we’re focusing mostly on ourselves and how we do things. They (Minnesota) have a lot of things that we need to stop, and so team defense is important and something we can’t get away from. I think mentally we have to be aggressive and that’s something that we did a really good job of yesterday. I think just sticking to what we know, and what we know is our offense. Our offense is very simple so keeping it very plain and understanding what we need to get out of our offense is what coach is harping on for us right now.

This post is part of the thread: 2016 WNBA Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


 

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