Lynx dominate Fever in game 5 to win third WNBA title
The Minnesota Lynx put on a dominant performance to top the Indiana Fever in game 5 of the 2015 WNBA Finals for a 69-52 victory Wednesday. The Lynx were cheered on by a packed house at the Target Center that included music superstar Prince. The artist celebrated with the champions post-game by throwing them a three-hour party at his Paisley Park complex.
With their victory, the Lynx captured the franchise’s third championship in the past five seasons. They clinched their previous two WNBA Championships on the road (in Atlanta, 2011; in Atlanta 2013).
The marked the first time since 2009 and the fourth time overall the WNBA Finals have gone to a fifth and deciding game in league history. The Finals went to a best-of-five format in 2005.
Center Sylvia Fowles, in her first season with the team, led the Lynx with 20 points and 11 rebounds. She was named the 2015 WNBA Finals MVP. Seimone Augusts scored 16 points while Rebekkah Brunson contributed 10 points and pulled down 14 rebounds.
At the half, the Lynx were ahead 27-21. Minnesota opened the second quarter with an 8-0 run and forced seven Indiana turnovers before the Fever scored their first points of the second quarter. Indiana scored a total of eight points from the end of the first quarter until 2:15 was left in the third quarter.
Fowles helped her team build a 23-point advantage in the fourth quarter, the largest lead by the either team in the series.
Three Fever players were also in double figures include Tamika Catchings (18 points, 11 rebounds), Briann January (13 points) and Shenise Johnson (10 points, five rebounds).
The Lynx (22-12) finished the regular season with the second-best overall record in the league. The team will hold a parade for fans in downtown Minneapolis on Friday morning followed by a celebration at the Target Center.
The route will begin at 11:30 a.m. local time on the corner of 12th Street and Hennepin Avenue, stretching down Hennepin Avenue to 7th Street, where it will continue on 7th Street toward First Avenue North. The procession will end as it enters the backstage doors of Target Center. Following the procession, the championship celebration at Target Center will kick off at 12:15 p.m. with a video commemorating the Lynx season. Lynx players and coaches will address the crowd, while radio play-by-play announcer John Focke will emcee the event.
Both events are free and open to the public. Doors to Target Center will open at 11:30 a.m. for the championship celebration. Fox Sports North will carry both the parade and championship celebration live, starting at 11:30 a.m.
By the Numbers
Points in the Paint: Fever 24, Lynx 32
Second Chance Points: Fever 4, Lynx 13
Fastbreak Points: Fever 6, Lynx 8
Biggest Lead: Fever 4, Lynx 23
Lead Changes: 5
Times Tied: 5
Attendance: 18,933 (Sellout)
- The Lynx finished the 2015 postseason with a 7-3 record.
- The Lynx have put together 127 regular season wins since 2011, which is the second-most-prolific five-year haul in the WNBA history (Los Angeles, 130 games from 2000-04).
- This season marks the fifth consecutive season the Lynx put together 20+ wins, which is the second longest such stretch in WNBA history (Los Angeles – 6, 1999-2004).
- At halftime the officials reviewed the Indiana basket by Shavonte Zellous with 4.3 seconds to go in the first half and it was ruled that it came after the shot clock expired. The basket was overturned. With that, the 48 combined points by both teams in the first half was the lowest ever in Finals history.
- The 4 points by Indiana in the 2nd quarter are the fewest by a team in the 2nd quarter in WNBA Finals history – surpassing the previous low of 9- Atlanta vs. Minnesota on 10/6/13.
- The 48 combined points in the first half are the fewest in the first half of a WNBA Finals game in league history – surpassing 49 – New York vs. Houston 9/2/99.
- Minnesota is 2-0 when facing elimination during the 2015 postseason. The Lynx went on to defeat Los Angeles in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals at Target Center after dropping Game 2 on the road.
- The 17-point victory for Minnesota marked the first time a game in the 2015 WNBA Finals was decided by a margin larger than 10 points.
- Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve boasts the second-most wins (29) and second-highest winning percentage (.744) in WNBA postseason games of any coach in league history. Bill Laimbeer (30) leads in wins and Paul Westhead (.778) in winning percentage.
INDIANA’S TAMIKA CATCHINGS AND BRIANN JANUARY
Q. Was fatigue a factor tonight, emotional, physical in any way?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think so. We were so excited today, and everybody was so anxious for the game. It definitely plays into just the performance tonight because everything just felt like it was like a slugfest, so slow, and everybody trying to move. We were doing a good job, a decent job in the first half defensively, but second half I just felt like yeah, it was just not a good deal.
Q. Tamika, this series has been so hard fought, so close for the first four games. Are you surprised it turned out the way it did with kind of a run away for Minnesota?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Yeah. This is not the way we wanted it to end, just like we talked about, just the fatigue factor. No matter what happened tonight, I was going to be proud of this group. This group was it’s been an amazing journey this year.
One thing that I told them in the huddle, there’s nothing to hang your head down for. We played, and we fought, and we did every single thing that we possibly could. Every single thing the coaches asked of us, we did. So I’m proud of this group. I’m especially proud of this girl right here [Briann January], the way that she performed and led this team the last four games yeah, this whole series, just being able to control the game the way she did.
As a group, as a unit, that’s all you can ask for from a team, that they give everything they have and play with so much heart.
Q. Briann, you have a lead after the first quarter, and then 12 points in the next 20 minutes. What happened after that point?
BRIANN JANUARY: It was we really didn’t it was a thing of possessions. We turned the ball over. We gave them turnovers for easy scores, which took us out of our flow. We weren’t playing our style of basketball. We kind of got away from what was working for us, and, yeah, it allowed them to get some easy buckets, allowed them to get on a run, and then we were playing catch up. So we put ourselves in a tough situation.
Q. Tamika, how do you feel about [Sylvia] Fowles being named MVP? We sat here a few years ago when you won your first title, and everyone was really happy for you. And you won a couple of gold medals with her. How do you feel about her finally winning the Championship?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I’m excited for Syl. I’m excited she was able to get a Championship here with the Lynx. Obviously, it’s something that follows us. When you come into the league, you want to have an opportunity to win.
Being named MVP, she definitely dominated against us and throughout the series, throughout all of them. So, yeah, I’m proud of her.
Q. For both of you, please, what did you do that enabled you to hold Maya down today, if you did, or do you think she just had a bad game?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: I think Maya’s done a really good job all series long. I think that other like me, other people have to step up. You’re not going to be able to score 40 or 20 or whatever she scores every night. That’s just what you have a team for.
And when you’re looking at their roster of Olympians and first round picks and just great players overall, somebody has to step up when one person goes down.
Q. Tamika, are you ready tonight, on the last night of the season, to think about your last season next year?
TAMIKA CATCHINGS: Not yet. I wish there was an ice bath I could get in, but since there’s not, my family’s here. So I’m going to enjoy the night.
MINNESOTA’S SYLVIA FOWLES AND MAYA MOORE
Q. Sylvia, this series has been so hard fought, so close for the first four games. How were you able to turn it into a ru away? Were you surprised you were able to do it tonight?
SYLVIA FOWLES: Just locking in as a team. We knew it was going to be hard, and we also knew at some point we were going to have the upper hand. But it just was all about staying together as a team whether we were up or we were down.
Q. Sylvia, take us back to July, when you’re sitting at home not knowing what comes next. Could you envision a moment like this?
SYLVIA FOWLES: No. Actually, I gave up after like the third attempt. I can recall my last time I was in California for the 4th of July, and I thought that the deal was going to go through, and I ended up booking the flight to go home, and nothing happened. At that point, I pretty much just gave up all hope and said that I wasn’t going to play this summer.
But after All Star, we got that call, the happiest day of my life.
Q. Does it mean something special to do it with Seimone [Augustus] after trying to get it done in college?
SYLVIA FOWLES: It feels good doing it with everybody. So happy Seimone just so happened to be a part of it, but I’m just excited to do it with all these girls.
Q. Sylvia, can you talk about the differences between this team and where you were in Chicago and what it was exactly that sort of freed you up to really reach one of the best half-seasons you’ve ever had?
SYLVIA FOWLES: Nothing to take away from Chicago. I felt like I fulfilled my contract there in Chicago and just wanted to step out and broaden my horizons on something new. Minnesota just so happened to be the team.
Q. Maya, would you describe your night, just what it was like to maybe struggle a little bit from the field but win a Championship?
MAYA MOORE: I don’t feel I didn’t feel like I was struggling when I was playing. I was just playing in the moment, whatever the right decision called for at the time, I was just trying to make. Didn’t hit the shots that I took, but just still trying to be involved and active in my team’s success.
It was so rewarding to watch my teammates step up and hit shots. Seimone was unbelievable. She was vintage Seimone. She was like a video game out there the way she was just attacking. Sylvia was just so clutch for us, the heart and soul of those big moments, where if we needed something, we know we could count on Syl. And Brunson just playing her heart out, getting loose balls, running around. Bench players stepping up and making big plays.
I could go on and on. Renee [Montgomery] came in. Dev [Peters] came in. Our bench was so engaged the whole time. I’m just so proud of this team.
Q. Maya, you’ve been here for three of these now, and not necessarily to compare the three, but given what you guys went through this year the additions, the injuries, the difficult August is this one maybe a little bit special because of having overcome all that?
MAYA MOORE: Absolutely. There have been just different elements of the journey of trying to be so successful every single year. The mental, the emotional energy and focus that that takes, the pressure, the expectations, and when things don’t go perfectly, how do we handle it? We want to be so great all the time, and we weren’t able to do that every minute of every game.
I think that was our biggest struggle of trying to get over our perfectionism and just pushing through and not quitting and not giving up and bouncing back, play after play, game after game. That was the definition of this series of just trying to bounce back. We win, they win. We win, they win. We win. So it’s just really sweet to win this way.
Q. Maya, you mentioned Seimone, but both she and Lindsay [Whalen] were dealing with health issues at the end of the regular season. I’m just wondering, it just seemed like both of them were able to really come through and make clutch plays during these Finals even if they weren’t 100 percent physically.
MAYA MOORE: What Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus did was so hard. You can’t imagine how hard it is to come back from injury at the most important time of the season, when everyone is playing well and hard and desperate and you have to find a way to be effective when your body isn’t maybe even 80 percent, and staying on your rehab and not getting frustrated that you have to spend an extra hour every day to rehab and ice and stretch and get treatment because your body needs it, and they did it.
I remember sitting back in our last regular season game and watching them run up and down the court rehabbing, trying to get their wind, trying to get their condition so they could be ready to help this team when playoffs came around, and it all paid off.
Q. Maya, you’ve won the first two championships on the road. What was it like to finally be back here and to be able to celebrate one at home with these fans?
MAYA MOORE: It is an unbelievable experience. I really don’t have words for that feeling. I mean, the way we came out and just executed and started pushing that lead, and the crowd was just so into it, and it just built and built.
That last minute, when we were up 15 or so, I just lost it. Like all of us started smiling. The crowd started smiling. We all knew it was coming.
And to be able to celebrate it with our fans was truly special because they’ve been so instrumental in giving us home court advantage for the last my entire career here. So especially this season, when we needed them, it’s an unbelievable memory. Everybody who came, I can guarantee you, will never forget it.
Q. Both teams really struggled to find the bottom of the cylinder in the second period, but you guys really turned that around out of the break while still holding the Fever, just a good team, to relatively poor shooting tonight. What were you able to do? Was it something inspiring that was said? Something you changed tactically? What did you do to turn that around?
MAYA MOORE: Just amping everything up defensively. Our post players did a tremendous job of literally trying to play two players when they had their ball screen action. Indiana, they’re like a machine when it comes to their two man ball screen game, and our post players were on top of it, helping the guards, and getting back to their players so they couldn’t score inside, and they were so locked in.
Our point guards running around, trying to get through screens and rescreens all series, and then Seimone and I had to turn it up and make it as hard as possible on their wings, who are very versatile, who want to post up, who want to shoot threes, who want to drive to the rim.
So everybody just at different times came in, had help defense, got a deflection. We were so active with our hands, which made up for a lot of advantages they might have had.
So just truly a team defensive the way we identified all year as just trying to be the best defensive team, and to hold them to 52 was amazing.
Q. Maya, do you feel like your team’s strength and depth wore down Indiana to a certain extent? They just didn’t look like the same team offensively tonight?
MAYA MOORE: We hope so. That’s the goal. All that full court pressure that both teams were applying. Our guards coming off the bench were instrumental to continuing that pressure. So who knows? There’s a lot of things that could have keyed into wearing them down, but I know how locked in our guards were, getting smacked by screens every so often, just because it’s so loud, and getting back up and continuing to press. You can’t give them enough credit for that.
But then everybody today was just really into getting up and pressuring and believing. If we did that, eventually we’d break them.
INDIANA COACH STEPHANIE WHITE
COACH WHITE: I mean, give credit to Minnesota. They outplayed us in every single way. This was a team that was on a mission, and they played like it. They’ve been one of the premier teams in our league for a long time, and tonight you saw a reason why.
I didn’t even realize until somebody told me, Maya Moore goes 1 for 8, and you think you say, oh, that’s great defense. Well, everybody else stepped up. Everybody else stepped up. And what it takes at this time of the year is for other players to be able to step up and respond, and they got that. Their defensive intensity and energy was terrific.
Offensively, they were moving the ball extremely well, and they just they outplayed us in every way.
I’m very happy for Cheryl and for her staff, and I’m extremely proud of our team. The way that we the growth that we’ve had from the beginning of the year to right now and the way that we’ve played. We have 12 players who lay it on the line every single day. That’s what we ask. We ask them to be better, to get better, to grow, to lay it on the line, and to sacrifice for one another, and they’ve done that all season long. I’m just incredibly proud of our group.
Q. The series tied after four games. Were you surprised that it did get away from you the way that it did?
COACH WHITE: A little surprised. You’re never really shocked because Minnesota is so good. But at the same time, it seemed like we couldn’t quite get a handle on the ball. They were moving us around a lot on the defensive end and really getting great shots. They were executing, setting great screens, and really getting good shots. Then offensively, we couldn’t find a handle on the ball. I’m not exactly sure why.
Part of that was their pressure. But I think there was one spell in the first quarter where we had seven turnovers and nine possessions. You can’t do that and expect to give yourself a chance to play for a Championship.
So all the credit goes to Minnesota. I’m just, again, really proud of our squad.
Q. Steph, obviously, offensively for a long time, second and third quarter, did you like the shots you were getting? Beyond the turnovers, it looked like there were some open looks there that weren’t falling.
COACH WHITE: When you’re having a hard time getting into your offense and you’re having a hard time with turnovers, you certainly don’t want to settle for shots, but I did feel like we were getting good shots. We were getting open shots. We were short arming some of them, and we weren’t quite shooting with as much confidence as we’ve shot for most of the season really.
I didn’t think our shots were bad. I didn’t think our shot selection was bad, but we have to give ourselves more of an opportunity to get better shots. We weren’t getting shots, and we weren’t giving ourselves a chance to even get a shot. Sometimes that really, really plays with you mentally.
Q. Did you feel like you took Maya out of her rhythm, or did she just have a bad day?
COACH WHITE: Does anybody take Maya out of her rhythm? We did as good a job as we could in terms of just trying to play her tendencies, but she didn’t have to. You know, that’s the great thing about a balanced team. You have a great player, and when they need her to rise, she does.
Tonight she didn’t have to because contributions were coming from other players. That’s what it’s about at championship time.
Q. It seemed like Tamika was trying to shoot you back into the game late. Your thoughts on her? Obviously, a veteran who obviously won’t get that many opportunities like this again.
COACH WHITE: Yeah, it’s Tamika is special. She’s just she’s really special. She has accomplished everything and everything that you can accomplish in women’s basketball, and I felt like this year was probably, in my opinion, her greatest accomplishment because of the way she got her teammates to elevate their play. The way she made them better, the way she empowered them, the way she sort of you know, like a mom would do pushed them along and then handed over the reins, in a sense.
I’m extremely proud of her for that. She looked physically today like she was in her 20s again. She was jumping all over the place. I’m just really proud of the way that she has approached this team, and I just I don’t have enough positive adjectives to use in regards to Tamika. But she’s just really, really special, a once in a lifetime player for a coach to be able to coach.
Q. Stephanie, this ends 2015, but you really do have Tamika playing as well as she has and a bunch of 20 somethings returning. Any thought about you certainly seem to have the pieces to make a run at this next year although New York and Chicago are looming.
COACH WHITE: Not really. It’s just too fresh and too early. Being in The Finals and I think Tamika alluded to this with some of her teammates it’s incredibly difficult, not only to go through the grind of the regular season, but then you have to be on your A game through the entire playoffs. There are great teams in the Eastern Conference.
You have to do your work early in the sense you don’t want to fall behind too much in terms of seeding and things like that, but you also have to be on your A game at all times. It’s very difficult.
Yeah, you look at who we have on our roster and a young core, so to speak, but we also realize how incredibly difficult it is. No thoughts on that right now.
Q. Steph, was fatigue a factor at all for your team today?
COACH WHITE: I think it could have been. Mental, emotional fatigue, as well as physical. We exerted a lot of emotion. We played every possible game in every series, and each one of those has been highly charged emotionally.
So I think back I don’t remember what game it was where I felt like we had a sugar crash, and it felt a little bit like that today.
But I don’t know really. I don’t know how you can get tired in an environment like this. The fans were awesome. They have been all season long. It’s what you dream of playing for. But at the same time, I felt like some of our decision making showed a little bit of fatigue.
MINNESOTA COACH CHERYL REEVE
COACH REEVE: Well, this never gets old, kind of coming to the microphone champagne soaked. I think I got the worst of it. I don’t know how Maya [Moore] looked so damn dry.
We really talked about this entire series that, if we played great defense I just wanted to give our players the confidence that, if we play great defense, we’re going to win a Championship. I thought we had moments that we were really good, just not as consistently as we were good tonight.
So we kind of came into the locker room before the game and said, this is it. This is our chance to play great defense. We did every bit of it. I think we were really hard to play against. What an unbelievable series.
I want to congratulate Stephanie White and the Indiana Fever on a great playoff run. I liken them to the monster, I don’t play much video games, but the monster that you kind of like hit and you hit and they start to stumble but they never fall. And you give them like that hit, and they’re laying on the ground and you think they’re dead, and all of a sudden, they jump up at you, and they’re not going away. That’s the Indiana Fever. That’s because of Tamika Catchings and Stephanie White. So I really want to take my hat off to them.
And I certainly want to thank our business staff, Carley Knox and Jake Vernon do an unbelievable job of giving us this environment here. And kudos to our fans for coming out and supporting a Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. I’m just thrilled we had a chance to win a Championship for them right here in front of them.
Q. Cheryl, Sylvia [Fowles] was obviously really huge, but to see Seimone play the way she did, to see Brunson play the way she did, was it kind of special to have those vintage performances to put you guys over the edge here?
COACH REEVE: Sylvia, obviously, was big in this series. When she was in foul trouble, it was a problem for us. Game 1 and 2 here, she was really good, scored 20. Game 3, she was really good, but it was more distributing the basketball, and we were able to play off of her. It was one of our better offensive games because we shared the ball and we didn’t force things. Game 4, we virtually played without her. And then obviously stepped up in a big, big way [tonight].
She knew she was the key to this game offensively and defensively. I don’t think Syl gets enough credit in that area, how she defends the pick and roll.
For Seimone, it’s about damn time. It’s about damn time. She played well in Game 1 against L.A. We hadn’t seen her since then. It was great to have a Seimone Augustus sighting in Game 5 in front of her fans.
Q. The defense in the middle quarters was terrific, but especially against Briann January, who’s been troublesome for you guys the whole series. The fact you guys were able to shut her down, no points in the second quarter and then get like one bucket in the third, how key was that to just the whole defensive effort?
COACH REEVE: It was huge. Briann obviously got them off to a good start in this game. I thought she got them off to a good start in the series. The January-Larkins screening action is really hard to play against. And I give our guards a lot of credit because they took some licks against the screens of Larkins. Her timing is terrific. I think January’s reads were terrific.
So I just think, as each game wore on, they got more and more confident how they were defending it and how to get through the screens. And I thought it was key kind of slowing her role because she got off to another good start here tonight.
We just thought that Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman had their way with us. When we did get January under control in this series, all of a sudden, here comes Shenise Johnson and Marissa Coleman. We increased the heat on those two. I think that was the difference. If you put a lot of pressure that January is going to make all of her shots, knowing that Johnson and Coleman weren’t going to get going, that was a big factor for us. So I credit Seimone and Maya for that.
Q. If you saw the box score before the game with Maya with five points, what do you think the final score is going to be?
COACH REEVE: We get beat by 20. We get beat by 20. What a testament to this team, you know. I think probably it tells our story. I think Game 5 tells our story. First and foremost, we didn’t do anything easy. This was not an easy year for us by any stretch. Just finding a way and having people step up for us.
We don’t get enough credit for our depth. Largely, people think that I don’t play people enough. I think that we don’t have Western Conference home court advantage without Renee and Anna. There’s no question about it. Devereaux Peters, the play of her throughout the playoffs was really, really big. And I thought tonight was a testament to those guys really stepping up.
Obviously, Syl was big. I thought [Lindsay] Whalen played well in Game 4 and Game 5. And then Seimone being Seimone, that was really important for us.
Q. Cheryl, yesterday you talked about how this isn’t a team on the rise, this is a team at its peak, and it’s probably going to it’s not going to go up any further. To get it done for a third time in five years, just what does it mean to you, and what does it mean to the people who were here for all three of them?
COACH REEVE: I experienced a great deal of emotion when we made the finals. I think because I have an appreciation of where these guys are and how hard it was, overall health. I think that, when you put things out in the universe as much as the media has, you can’t help but be human, and I think that maybe Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah [Brunson] kind of heard the words of kind of that they were old, older, whatever it was, and that this thing was coming to an end and maybe even this year, we weren’t going to be able to get through it this year.
I think that those are things that kind of fuel this group. At the same time, I think it made them appreciate things. Each time we’re together, it gets harder and harder. The rise is always the easiest, as people tell you. Staying here is incredibly difficult, and you don’t do it without the fortitude of players like Lindsay, Seimone, Maya, and Rebekkah Brunson.
By the way, please talk about Rebekkah Brunson because she was absent for four games and she really showed up in a big way. We’re not in the WNBA Finals without Rebekkah Brunson in the L.A. series and the Phoenix series, and then certainly in Game 5 she showed up in a big, big way.
Q. Coach, I’d just like to take the opportunity to pick your mind for some coaching tips. One part of that would be, with Sylvia Fowles, you got more out of her in this half and also the same question I asked of Coach White with respect to the crowd, the turnout that the local support in Indiana, you also have local support that many teams in this league would just be salivating for. How do you do that?
COACH REEVE: Wow, some really good questions. I’m not sure on the Sylvia Fowles front. I think Syl’s been a great player for a long time. She’s an Olympian for a reason. I think she was important to our team because she’s so different than what we’ve had. So it’s important that we acquire a player like that.
Obviously, playing against [Brittney] Griner in the West, everybody’s trying to get a little bit bigger. But I just think for us, being able to have that presence, it was going to take some pressure off of great players like Lindsay, Seimone, and Maya. I’m not sure we necessarily got more out of her. I think the series really suited her.
If you look at the strengths of our team, look at strengths of their team, we definitely targeted that one to five feet. It was a battle of one to five feet. You guys didn’t talk about that very much. Indiana was persistent. They scored the second highest points one to five feet, but they also gave up the second worst percentage one to five feet. So we really viewed the series as a battle of one to five feet, and whoever won that in each game was who I thought was the victor in each game.
I think Sylvia Fowles coming here and embracing everything about what we do, being so coachable when you’re at the professional level, you don’t see a player, when you call her name, that she looks at you in a way that she’s eager to hear what you’re about to say and even runs over to you. You don’t see that in the professional basketball. And so I think it’s about it’s a testament to Syl. She had to hear some stuff that our team had a hard time incorporating her, that it was a problem having Sylvia Fowles.
I’d say the problem was the coach, you know, play calling. Play calling when she first got here, trying to figure her out and learn her. Syl just stayed with it no matter what. I’m so incredibly proud. I’m just so glad it worked out for her in this way.
I forget what the next question was. Oh, about our fan base. I think our business staff does an unbelievable job, led by Carley Knox, Director of Business, who I think understands how to leverage our success, I think, better than anybody in the league, and she’s done that throughout her time here. It’s no different tonight.
Give credit to Indiana. They had an unbelievable crowd, but we’re going to have the highest revenue of any playoff game. That speaks volumes because not only do you have the people in the stands, but you have paying customers. That’s really important for this league. So that was really impressive, and I want to take my hat off on behalf of the team… thank the business staff for the entire season to give us an unbelievable environment.
Yeah, we have to win. You have to have an exciting team, but you have to have a group behind you that believes in what you’re doing. We have, obviously, a brother team support us from the standpoint of you have no choice but to support us because we’re really, really good.
And I think you have someone like Carley, who is going to come forward and say, this is how we’re going to do it. And I thought the addition of Jake Vernon on our staff was really good. And they just were really aggressive in putting people in the stands.
It is not easy to sell playoffs for the WNBA. It’s not the same as where if the Wolves were to make it, where you just stand by the phone and wait to pick it up. You have to work really, really hard, and you have to be very, very creative, and I think our staff is one of the best in the league at providing us this environment, and we thank them so much.
Q. Cheryl, Maya wins another title but didn’t have her typical game tonight. She also doesn’t seem concerned by that. Is that what you see every day from her?
COACH REEVE: Absolutely. Maya is about winning. If you know Maya, Maya is one of the best people you ever come around. She’s a tremendous teammate. At no point in time did Maya obviously, she wanted to play better. But I thought that her activity on defense was really important.
Obviously, you guys don’t pay much attention to that kind of thing, but we look at Maya’s box score and think she didn’t play very well, but I thought her activity on defense was really good. I thought that she moved the ball when necessary.
I knew we were going to be okay. We had a really good shootaround. We had a really focused we had a nice video session yesterday, where we were disappointed in Game 4. Then I thought we came out in shootaround and had a great focus about what we were going to do tonight, and we carried that shootaround. Maya was one of the players that was really locked in. The box score doesn’t show it, but I thought Maya was really instrumental tonight.
Q. Having Devereaux Peters come off the bench and defend that screen action that Indiana likes to run, how important was that?
COACH REEVE: Dev’s probably every coach has their person that takes a little more of a tongue lashing than others, and Dev is my person largely because I know she can handle it, and Dev has high expectations of herself.
Dev was good at times, and I had to get on her early. I thought that she settled in and helped us as the game wore on. Dev had a great series. Dev hit some big shots for us. And Dev has been big all season for us to be able to give us a different look than what we have.
And Rebekkah Brunson – there’s not a better power forward defender in the league than Rebekkah Brunson – and Dev comes in behind that group and gives us a different look and embraces her role. Dev was big for us in this series, and I’m really happy for her.
Q. Cheryl, you won the first two on the road. What was it like to be here and be in this building and celebrate with these fans and your own locker room?
COACH REEVE: Best way to describe it is surreal. I’m a real coach when it comes to this kind of stuff because I just don’t let myself go there in terms of thinking about beforehand what it would feel like. So when you’re in the moment, all of a sudden, there’s two minutes to go and you’re up double figures, you’re thinking, is this really happening?
I knew, when I first stepped onto the floor, I just looked around and was really impressed with the crowd that we had. I was really hopeful that we weren’t going to let them down. They were there with us. Our crowd all season long has been just a diehard group that pushes us through some tough times.
I know, when it got towards the end, it was just really, really special. Our fans requested that we win one at home, and I don’t necessarily know that that was our plan, but it worked out in a way that I mean, how more exciting do you get that a Game 5 in front of your home fans with the turnout that we had, and they were incredibly engaged?
To stand there as a group in front of our fans, I just think that both groups deserved it. Our players deserved it because I tell our players all the time, they built this. Our players built this, what they’re experiencing. And then our fans, just to be able to connect and identify with our group is a really, really special time in our franchise history.
So I hope that both groups really soaked it up.