Minneapolis reaches WNBA Finals for first time in franchise history, defeat the Phoenix Mercury 103-86
The Minnesota Lynx (27-7) continued their historic season by sweeping the Phoenix Mercury (19-15) in the WNBA Western Conference finals. The Lynx won game 2 of the series 103-86 on the road and celebrated after the game during the trophy presentation for the conference title.
They face the winner of the Eastern Conference finals on Sunday, Oct. 2 at 3:30 p.m. CDT at Target Center. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN2. Game three in the east finals takes place on Tuesday in Indianapolis between the Atlanta Dream and the Indiana Fever.
Rookie of the Year Maya Moore and veteran center Taj McWilliams-Franklin both had 21 points for the Lynx.Â Moore also had seven rebounds and five assists while McWilliams-Franklin pulled down six rebounds and had seven assists. Starting point guard Lindsay Whalen added 18 points while shooting guard Seimone Augustus contributed 16. Rebekkah Brunson was also in double figures with 12 plus nine rebounds. Jessica Adair finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
2011 WNBA Finals
Minnesota vs. Atlanta
Game 1 â€“ Sun October 2, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:30 PM, ESPN
Game 2 â€“ Wed October 5, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 3 â€“ Fri October 7, Minnesota at Atlanta, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 4 * Sun October 9, Minnesota at Atlanta, 4:00 PM, ESPN2
Game 5 * Wed October 12, Atlanta at Minnesota, 8:00 PM, ESPN2
All times Eastern
- The Minnesota Lynx, who entered the postseason as the second best field goal percentage team in the league, made 52.1 percent of its shots in the Western Conference finals. The Lynx shot 36-of-72 (.500) in Game 1 and 39-of-72 (.542) in Game 2.
- Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner led Phoenix in scoring with 21 each. Candice Dupree scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds.
- McWilliams-Franklin finished with 21 points on 8-of-14 shooting, the most she has scored in 2011, regular season or postseason.
- The Mercury was swept in a postseason series for just the third time in franchise history.
- The Mercury lost at home in a series elimination game for just the second time in franchise history and is now 10-4 overall in series elimination games in franchise history.
- The loss marked just the second time in her career that Diana Taurasi has been eliminated from the WNBA playoffs.
Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve
My team, they were tough. Phoenix kept coming at us and coming at us. They played really hard but I just thought we were tough. I thought we were tough and we made shots. I thought in the second half we defended much better. We werenâ€™t happy with our defense in the first half so we picked it up, we got some rebounds and we got some confidence on offense.
On Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Taj is amazing. To be the oldest player out there, you know all the players played hard. I think for Taj sheâ€™s just so smart, she plays the angles and knows whatâ€™s happening. There isnâ€™t anything she hasnâ€™t seen after all these years she remains poised and my goodness, 21 and 7 assists and 6 rebounds, just impressive. Sheâ€™s a warrior and Iâ€™m happy for her sheâ€™s back in the finals.
On the focus on Seimone Augustus
With our team you have to pick your poison. I think there was a lot of effort made on Seimone and I thought Seimone was very tested, very challenged. I think as a result of that we were able to get other people involved whether it was Taj or Maya.
Taj McWilliams Franklin
It feels great, itâ€™s been a long road, we fought through a lot of adversity. Anywhere from people in Minnesota to media saying that we were not having veterans that have not been in the playoffs to be able to understand or beat veteran teams. I think even to people questioning their own selves on what we can do in the playoffs. I think that the feeling right now is satisfying but not complete. You sit down to dinner and you finish your dinner and you feel great but you still want that desert. And you want that desert to be the best desert ever…and the finals is going to be that desert for me.
We had a great sense of urgency. I think that there were a few moments there where we needed to pick it up and we kind of lost our edge because Phoenix had their backs against the wall. You expect that from them, but I think collectively our veterans stepped it up; constantly communicating and setting the tone. We made some really back breaking plays; I think there were some great times to steal the home court advantage. I think this team has done a phenomenal job of celebrating and enjoying and being in the moment when we win. When we lose, we just throw it away. Whether it is a win or a lose we move on to the next game. We are absolutely enjoying this and making sure that everyone feels needed and wanted and appreciated and we are going to move on to the next series and be tested.
Phoenix head coach Corey Gaines
We got beat by a good team. They were the No. 1 team all year. All five starters in double figures and Lindsay (Whalen) really took over the game when they needed shots. She hit some big ones down the stretch and in the first half to keep them close. Sheâ€™s a good point guard, maybe one of the best in the league.
On Taj McWilliams-Franklin
Taj killed us from the beginning. Sheâ€™s a veteran though. She may be slow in step-throughs and put backs, but she hit them.
Minnesota played a really good game. They get all the credit. They came out in the second half and set the tempo. They played really well tonight. They made a couple plays and it got away from us. Thatâ€™s kind of how the game went.