Monday, July 23rd, 2018

Lynx and Sparks preview Game 3 of the WNBA Finals

Published on September 28, 2017


Photo © Lee Michaelson

Series tied: 1-1

  • Game 1 – Los Angeles 85, Minnesota 84
  • Game 2 – Minnesota 70, Los Angeles 68
  • Game 3 – Friday, September 29, Minnesota at Los Angeles, 6:00 p.m. local, 9:00 p.m. ET, ESPN2
  • Game 4 – Sunday, October 1* Minnesota at Los Angeles, 5:30 p.m. local, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
  • Game 5 –Wednesday, October 4* Los Angeles at Minnesota,7:00 p.m. local, 8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN

*If necessary

Quotes for Thursday’s Practice

Minnesota Lynx || Los Angeles Sparks

Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx

Q: With both teams being able to win on the other’s home court, do you believe there is really a homecourt advantage in this series?

Reeve: I think Candace [Parker] said it best… it probably doesn’t matter where these two teams play, you’re talking about awfully talented players. That being said, we haven’t won here this year. L.A. has done a great job taking care of their homecourt this entire season, including the playoffs so we have our work cut out for us.

Q: How important is it to start the games off well in this series?

Reeve: I think both teams experienced not doing that, so I suspect it will be on both teams’ minds. It will be a test of wills, for sure in the beginning of the games because both teams will try to establish themselves early. All I know is I’m sure it was on our minds Game 1 but we weren’t able to get it done. I know it was on L.A.’s mind for Game 2 but they weren’t able to get it done. It’s why they play the game.

Q: What was the reason you guys were so effective on the boards in Game 2?

Reeve: Understanding that’s how you win games because it’s a possession game. You work hard to play hard with passion and we didn’t do that in Game 1.

Q: With the Finals tied 1-1 for the second straight year between these two teams, what makes them so evenly matched?

Reeve: Talent. Talent on both sides, that’s what makes us so close. There’s really good players on both teams and that’s the league the last two years. We were close in the standings down the stretch. L.A. is good. We’re good. We’ve established ourselves and that’s why you see closely contested games.

Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx

Q: What’s been the difference in each game?

Fowles: Both teams doing the small things. Doing things that are going to take us out of our element-type of thing. I think that’s what both teams are focusing on right now. We played each other three times throughout the year. We pretty much know what each other bring to the table. So, it’s about doing the little things.

Q: Is there anything you guys don’t know about the Sparks?
Fowles: No, I’m pretty sure they know us just as well as we know them. That’s the difference maker. That’s what it comes down to – doing things out of the ordinary what we don’t know that the team does a lot.

Q: How surprised are you at each team fighting back from large deficits?

Fowles: It just shows the dynamics of both teams. It doesn’t matter how far you’re up within the game. You have two scrappy teams that don’t give up. We know how to win. I think that’s what it comes down to – both teams knowing how to play.

Q: I know you guys are taking it game-by-game, but you can’t ignore there’s a rivalry building out there. The games are just too intense.

Fowles: It is intense.

Q: A lot of physicality.

Fowles:  A lot of physicality. L.A. was one or two on top of the charts in almost every category. That’s what you expect once you get around playoff time. Both teams are going go out there and give it their all. Both teams are gritty. Both teams are physical. That’s what you expect. You see a lot of similarities in both teams.

Q: Fair to say that you wouldn’t have it any other way?

Fowles: I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Rebekkah Brunson, Minnesota Lynx

Q: What makes the teams so evenly matched?

Brunson: We’re really competitive and have really good teams. We’re relentless and neither one of us is going to give up. I think that’s what makes it exciting. Neither one of us feels like we are safe at any point in the game. You have to keep playing and keep competing until it is over.

Q: Is there a change in the mindset for a road game?

Brunson: We’re not going try to change what we do. We’re going to continue to be who we are and play the way we need to play and bring some energy.

Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx

Q: With The Finals matchup between these two teams being tied 1-1 for the second straight year, what makes these two teams so evenly matched?

Whalen: A lot of really good players and a lot of really good coaches. Two great head coaches and really good staffs that put their all into it. Some really good players making plays and people who are working hard. You make one mistake and it can lead to a basket. They put you into a lot of defensive situations that are tough, but that’s what The Finals are about. It’s supposed to be hard and supposed to be tough, and everybody giving it their all and putting their best foot forward.

Q: What are some adjustments you are looking to make going into Game 3?

Whalen: We’ll just be ready for Game 3 tomorrow night and focus on that.

Q: What is your mindset heading into this Game 3?

Whalen: We’ve had a lot of road games over the years and it’s fun. This is going to be a great environment because we know there are a lot of great basketball fans out here in L.A. I’m looking forward to it and the opportunity to play again. That what you play, to be in front of big crowds. There were a couple of great crowds in Minnesota and I know L.A. will have great crowds this weekend.

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

Q: Can you talk about what this series has been so far? It’s kind of like déjà vu from last year.

Augustus: I mean it’s just more of the same. Same situations – they won Game 1 and we had to win Game 2. It’s a tale of two games. This is something I think everybody has been looking forward to. I think everybody expected that when you have the two top teams in the league. So far, so good.

Q: These last two games have had intense finishes. Can you talk about that?

Augustus: We have to keep our composure and obviously execute down the stretch, but it’s been fun. It’s been fun out there to play in it. I know it’s been fun to watch. It’s just been a great series so far.

Q: Both teams had at least a 20-point lead in each game, but both games came down to the wire. Why the huge swings in these games?

Augustus: Just the way that we come out. I think the aggressive nature of both teams. They knew the sense of urgency they needed to have to get Game 1. Then, we knew the sense of urgency we needed to have to get Game 2 to not come here down 0-2. So, I can’t really explain the slopes and shifts in the game, but [it’s] just great players making great plays to get back in the game. From there, it’s the basketball that everybody wants to see.

Q: Both coaches spoke about the depth and multiple options each team has.

Augustus: If you give a coach like Cheryl Reeve and Brian Agler a few extra days like we have between Game 3, you never know. They might have a few tweaks here and there. Maybe a few new plays. That’s the nature of the WNBA — two brilliant-minded coaches as far as the game planning and adjustments that will be made in a short period of time.

Maya Moore, Minnesota Lynx

Q: What are you looking forward to most with bringing this rivalry back to L.A.?

Moore: Getting on the court playing with my team. Every day that I get to be with this group is so special. Just looking forward to the grind of every game and thankfully we don’t have to wait too much longer until the next one. 

Q: You all have proven that these two teams are so close and the margin of victory has been very slim so what’s the difference between winning and losing a game in this series?

Moore: Just the little details. Who’s going to execute their game plan on both sides of the ball with more effort and focus for 40 minutes is really what it comes down to. Like you said, the margin of error is so small that you never know which play is going to win it for your team.

Q: What do you think this series means for basketball fans?

Moore: This series has been amazing for the game and sports in general. More people have been watching that may have never watched before and they’re getting a taste of the best. It’s been a historic time for our league and for the game because there’s more ways for people to watch us now more than ever. It’s really cool knowing that eyeballs are getting on this amazing series the last couple of years.

Q: What type of funny reactions have you seen in person or on social media about this amazing series?

Moore: I haven’t looked for a lot of outside reactions at this point of the season but I think people are really invested. They just can’t turn away because the games are so good. Emotional highs and lows of all the big swings in the series. It’s been really entertaining and for all those close to the players, it’s probably been an emotional rollercoaster for those family and friends.

Q: How would you best describe this Lynx-Sparks rivalry?

Moore: It’s intense. It’s two heavyweights going at it, trying to inch out an advantage at every moment. There’s no question you’re seeing really talented players play.

Los Angeles Sparks

Brian Agler, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: Are adjustments even more important when you’re playing games like these?

Agler: It could be. I just think it depends on the scenario. I think each team will make adjustments going into the next game. You have to decide on the adjustments you make through the course of the game.

Q: What are some things you emphasized during practice today?

Agler: We just tried to tweak some of our offenses today. We went through some of their [Lynx] defenses and did a film session before practice. We just talked and got ready for game three.

Q: Can you lean on anything from last year after being in this situation?

Agler: I think this year is different than last year in a lot of ways. I know that [going into Game 3 tied 1-1] is similar, but our team is different, their team is a little different and people are doing things different offensively.

Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: Do you feel prepared for game three?

Gray: Yes, I think we are good. We are going to come out and play our game and be the aggressor, and we’ll go from there.

Q: What are the key factors you took from Game 2?

Gray: We took a few things from our last game. We have to get the 50/50 balls, do the intangibles and be aggressive.

Odyssey Sims, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: What is your mindset going into tomorrow?

Sims: It’s the same thing it’s been going into our last two games. We have to be aggressive, attach and see the outcome at the end of the fourth quarter.

Q: What will the atmosphere be like playing at home?

Sims: Home court is always good. We have our fans and everybody cheering for us, so it’s definitely a plus, but going into tomorrow we have to concentrate on us and everything else will take care of itself.

Alana Beard, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: What is the key to starting off Game 3 strong at home?

Beard: I think coming into every game we have to have a certain mindset and we have to come out with a sense of urgency. Obviously we came out with a sense of urgency and a great mindset in the first game and didn’t have it in the second game, but those are two important factors to winning games in a series like this.

Q: Is there a comfort of being home for Game 3 at Staples Center?

Beard: It’s never a comfort. We’re in The Finals. We approach every game like it’s our last. It’s good to be back home in front of our fans. It feels good. They give us a second wind, but this is the Finals. I don’t really consider anything home-court advantage.

Q: How instrumental is rebounding in The Finals?

Beard: Rebounding is a part of defense. If we can get stops on defense, get the rebound and play in flow, that is when we’re at our best.

Nneka Ogwumike, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: Both teams have shown that they are able to win on each other’s home court. Do you feel like you have much of a home court advantage going into Game 3?

Ogwumike: We are playing at Staples and we haven’t lost much at Staples, so I think that contributes to the crowd we’re going to see. Our fans are going to be proud to see us play at Staples and I think that pride is also going to contribute to how hard we play out there. Obviously we have to play hard for each other in order for us to do something big on Staples’ court.

Q: You are in the same position you were last year, tied 1-1 going into Game 3. What can you learn from last year going into tomorrow’s game?

Ogwumike: The experience we have from playing in Finals, I think that’s really it. With that experience comes the recollection of coming in, taking one game and then having a little bit of a lull in the second game. We need to learn from that. It’s a different team. It’s a different year, They are a different team and it’s a different year for them. It’s not going to be the same, but we’re excited. We’re up for the challenge. I know my team has my back and I’ve got theirs.

Q: How much different is the team this year compared to 2016?

Ogwumike: We have a lot of different players that add a little different aggression to the offensive end. Obviously, we have Odyssey and Chelsea. Chelsea has been growing. I think we saw the beginning of her growth towards the end of last year and now we see where that has gone. We also know what Odyssey can do. I think we probably have one of the best front courts in the league, as well as the Lynx. That’s why this matchup is so competitive. This year I think we see a mature team, an experienced team and a team that knows you can’t lose the opportunity.

Candace Parker, Los Angeles Sparks

Q: In the middle of the series, can you appreciate the high-level basketball that’s being played and how big of a matchup is this game for the fans?

Parker: I think that it is a great matchup and that it is exciting. If I were on the outside looking in, it’s a good brand of basketball. It shows the skillset and the talent. We’re scoring points and we’re doing things that respectable on both ends. I think it’s exciting to watch and I know a lot of people that are basketball fans because of it.

Q: Do you think these two teams bring out the best in each other?

Parker: I think that when you play somebody so many times you know what the other person is going to do. What they want to do, what’s their weaknesses and strengths. You just try to make it tough on them. That’s what they try to do to us and that’s what we try to do to them.

Q: During these practices are you able to add something that maybe they haven’t seen before?

Parker: It’s still the same tendencies. We know sports on the floor where they try to get people. It’s no secret with our offense what we run and it’s no secret of what they try to do. Regardless of the motion before it, it’s still getting people to certain spots. No matter the tweaks, I think it comes down to rebounding, defense and urgency. Obviously, you have got to knock down a couple shots.


This post is part of the thread: 2017 WNBA Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


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