2015 WNBA Finals: Practice quotes previewing game 4
WNBA Finals Game 4: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
With the Minnesota Lynx leading the 2015 WNBA Finals best-of-five series, 2 – 1, play resumes Sunday for the championship. The Lynx are a game away from the title and the Indiana Fever will attempt to avoid elimination. Coaches and players discussed the ending of game 3 and their thoughts on game 4 during practice Saturday.
Fever head coach Stephanie White
Q: The elimination games, you guys have been so good. Is there something there that heightens your focus when you are in those positions?
Stephanie White: I don’t know. Your back is against the wall and you know your urgency has to be at an all-time high. You really don’t have anything to lose, you just go out and play your best, you work your butts off and put yourself in a position to win. What I told our team is that you’re put yourself in a position in all three games to win. It’s one play here or there that we haven’t made or that they have made, that has been the difference. That’s all really we can ask.
Q: In previous elimination games, have you seen something different out of them going into those nights?
White: Not really. I am such a bad judge of by shoot-around or practice the day before, of saying, “We are really great and ready to go” and we are not; or I will say “We really stink and are not ready to go,” and we are. I haven’t seen anything in particular, I think it is just our players responding to the moment, responding to what’s at stake and going out and making plays.
Q: Knowing that you can close out a game on the road against a good team has to give you confidence in terms of taking care of business at home and that you will be in a good spot.
White: Absolutely, and we have to have confidence in knowing that all three of these games could have gone either way. We’ve been right in it and we know that we’ve had one or two mental lapses, make one or two plays and they don’t make one or two plays that they made. This is what it’s about, whether it is your bench stepping up or their bench did. Hitting the big shot, getting the big rebound or getting the big steal, this is what this time of the year is about. That big defensive stop. Whatever it is. We’ve given ourselves opportunities and that’s all we asked for out of one another. Give ourselves opportunities to win. Knowing that we can win, whether it is on the road or at home, certainly gives us confidence, but we’ve got to take care of business one possession at a time.
Q: Is it good to know that last night’s game was so close?
Catchings: Yeah, I look at all three games and it’s been hit or miss, a couple points here or there. It is the little things on both sides. For us offensively and defensively we have to do a better job but it’s very encouraging when you look at it. Also, it’s great for our league and women’s basketball; the performance that’s being played out there, how hard both teams are playing, the games coming down to the wire, it’s fun and entertaining.
Q: Is a game like yesterday, what players dream of playing in?
Catchings: Oh yeah, definitely. When you come into this league and any professional league -going overseas, Olympics- and you play in moments where something is on the line, right now we’re all competing for a championship, to go down as the 2015 WNBA Champions. So when you’re out here it’s all about every possession and you want to give everything you have.
Q: Can you step back from it being a loss and appreciate how good the game-winner was?
Catchings: I step back and I see it on both sides, it was a great play but for us it was ugh because of things we could have done to prevent it.
Q: What are some of the things that stood out to you from last night’s game that your team can work on heading into game 4?
January: With games like that, that’s what everyone sees, the last second shot. There’s so much more that goes into it and so much more that happened before that, that we call the controllables that we didn’t take care of. Whether it was one less turnover for a score, one less offensive rebound for them or one less defensive communication that we had, those are the things that we look to tighten up on for tomorrow.
Q: How much do you feel like going into game 4 you all can let everything go and start a fresh slate?
January: You have to. Carrying those negative thoughts and feelings from a loss isn’t going to do anything to help us be successful. Our core has done a really good job communicating that message to our team and Steph [White] has communicated that to us as well. Let it burn, let it sink in, learn from it and move on. We know we didn’t play our best basketball and that’s what we’re striving to do every day. We came out today to get better and tomorrow it’s a new day for us to go out there and play our best basketball.
Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve
Q: I don’t want to talk about the game-winning shot, but the pass that was made to get the game-winning shot. How big was that play to get her there to make that shot?
Cheryl Reeve: Lindsay and Maya have been in those situations a lot. Not necessarily truly at the end of the game with 1.7 seconds left, but these guys have played together a lot and we practiced together a lot, and they know each other well. Lindsay has been playing the game for a long time. There’s a great deal of trust that she was going to make the right read, and it was a great play by Maya to shake Coleman. We anticipated the switch. It was either going to be a switch off the top, off of Fowles, and either Fowles was going to slip, or they were going to slip off of Catchings and Coleman. But this absolutely had nothing to do with the play that was run, but like anything we are doing, it is not the play for the most part. Our players make plays, and that is exactly what that situation was on Lindsay’s and Maya’s part.
Q: The clinching game is always the toughest one to get, it’s said all the time in sports…
Reeve: Closing a team out that has the fortitude these teams have. We talk about mental and physical toughness and this is where it shows. I can assure neither one of us will be tough enough. Neither of us will be an easy out. This is going to be like the first three games were. I don’t know how the stat ended up, but the separation in the three games so far as points has been like, at one point, it was tied, and statistically the second chance points in game one swayed one way. In game two and three it was a factor, but it wasn’t a huge separation, and it is going to be more of the same. It’s going to come down to the end, down to the last five minutes, last three minutes, last one minute and whoever it is that gets the chance to make the last play. Because of that it is a hard out. Whoever it is going to be, it will be a hard out.
Q: Having played as long as you have and coached as long as you have, how much fun is this? These have got to the most fun games with both teams playing hard in the last possession.
Reeve: I think it was a fun game to watch and to be a part of. There were no really huge runs, but we had our stretch in the second quarter where we were really bad, but outside of that it was back and forth, back and forth with each team answering each other’s run, that’s fun to coach in. It wasn’t until we got to the third quarter where I started to enjoy the game because I thought this is a really good game, and the back and forth, back and forth. I just love it when it comes down to players making plays. Last night it was all about that. Their players made really good plays. Our players made really good plays. We just happened to have the ball at the end and was the last one to make a play.
Q: After a big win like that, is there any worries about having to be just as intense in game 4?
Moore: This series is so full. A lot of things have happened and are going to happen in the remainder of this series. Definitely a dramatic finish, where most of the attention has been on but we know there are things we need to clean-up. I’m sure both teams want to do better defensively since both teams shot so well last night. There’s a lot of little details that I personally want to clean up and our team wants to clean-up to be even better. Every game we have to be better and that’s the mindset going into game 4.
Q: What did they do defensively to keep you all out of the paint? That’s an area you all won in the first two games but lost last night?
Moore: Open players were taking open shots, and players were hitting some contested shots from the outside too. It’s a series of adjustments, so if you continue to do something that’s working, the other team will try and do everything they can to stop it. That was definitely an emphasis for Indiana in game 3 and we’re going to have to be ready to score from any spot on the floor that our offense gets us for game 4.
Q: What does it mean for you to come in and play such a big role in the biggest game of the year for your team, so far?
Montgomery: It’s crazy to be in this position right now. Just to think the start of this season I was with a completely different team, so when it all comes full-circle I’m happy to have the opportunity.
Q: How has the transition been getting into the rotation for this team and finding your spots?
Montgomery: When we [Anna Cruz, Sylvia Fowles] first got here it wasn’t a smooth transition. We struggled a little bit and I think a lot of people counted us out because it looked bad at times, but I think we’re gelling and we get better each game. That’s the scary thing about our team. Each game we play, I think we gel more and get better.