After becoming the first team in WNBA history to finish four consecutive years with 25 wins or more in the regular season, the Minnesota Lynx now look to carry-over that success into the playoffs.
The Lynx have now won 8 consecutive Playoff games dating back to a Finals loss on October 21st, 2012 against the Indiana Fever. They will head to San Antonio to try extending that streak in game 2 against Becky Hammond and the Stars at 7pm (ET) on ESPN2.
Prior to the contest, WNBA President Laurel Richie presented Minnesota Lynx forward Maya Moore with the 2014 WNBA MVP Award presented by Samsung. Moore finished the season with the third highest scoring total in WNBA history and has been pivotal to Minnesota’s success throughout her career.
“This award is very special because it is at the nexus of the individual and the team. It’s recognition of the individual’s personal performance and that performance and its impact on the team. This year 35 of the 38 voting members of our panel placed Maya Moore first for MVP. I think that is a true testament to the impact that she’s had on the Minnesota Lynx in her fourth season with the team.”
WNBA President Laurel Richie
“It’s truly amazing to think about my journey, just in the last four years as a Lynx player. I was drafted to a team that was an injury away or one missed shot away from the playoffs and being an awesome team. I came in and had captains like Rebekkah and Lindsay and Seimone so I had it easy my rookie year coming in and really getting a chance to learn from awesome leaders already as well as our coaching staff…
It’s not necessarily about outworking the person across from me. It’s outworking that voice inside of mind that says, ‘I’m too tired. I don’t feel like doing this. I can settle.’ I’ve always tried to give everything that I can in every situation — whether it’s a small drill at practice or whether it’s double overtime in front of our Target Center fans.”
WNBA MVP Maya Moore
The game opened up with fast paced shoot-out style with both teams executing their respected offenses well. The difference maker early was a combination of aggressive Minnesota defense that forced San Antonio into turnover trouble, and spectacular ball movement from the Lynx who created assists on 7 of 11 first quarter baskets while shooting 61% as a team for the quarter.
The Stars shot a high percentage, but had trouble getting going as a unit. Starting forward Kayla McBride was the only San Antonio player who scored multiple buckets while they fell behind Minnesota 24-16.
The Lynx starting five came out playing true playoff basketball. Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen, and Seimone Augustus combined for 16 points and 5 assists in the quarter as Minnesota recorded as many assists as San Antonio did field goals.
With a little over a minute left in the first, Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen flipped a perfect alley-oop pass to a streaking Maya Moore for one of the most amazing finishes in WNBA playoff history. That pass, tied Lindsay Whalen for most playoff assists in WNBA history, a record she would claim by the end of the quarter.
“I think anytime you have the experience we have it’s a big thing. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve been through a lot these past four or five years. When we got down late we knew we had to come down and get good possessions and good shots.”
Minnesota Lynx point guard Lindsay Whalen
Both teams settled down in the second quarter, and challenging shots became the focus of both squads. The Stars were able to get more players involved on the scoreboard than in the first with forward Danielle Adams and guard Danielle Robinson trying to create a spark, but neither team shot above 35% for the quarter as the game went into halftime with a 40-30 Lynx lead.
“I was just trying to come in and be confident. I think it started with my teammates and my coaches. They wanted me to come in early with some energy and I made some shots.”
San Antonio Stars forward Kayla McBride
The start of the second half saw the intensity increase as both teams saw strong production from the starters as well as their benches. San Antonio was able to convert on a high percentage of shots. Minnesota played gritty defense, and continued the team mentality on both sides of the ball that has become a staple of this Lynx squad.
Stars guard Becky Hammon dished out 3 assists, while Kayla McBride, Danielle Adams, and Sophia Young-Malcolm handled the scoring load. Leading the way for the Lynx were starters Maya Moore, Janel McCarville, and Seimone Augustus filled the stat sheet while Lindsay Whalen continued to find her teammates for good looks. Lynx reserves Devereaux Peters and Monica Wright fulfilled their roles and allowed Minnesota to maintain the lead going into the fourth quarter up 65-53.
“Minnesota is a great team. They’ve won two championships the last few years so we knew they were going to come out and be aggressive.”
San Antonio forward Sophia Young-Malcolm
San Antonio Stars guard Becky Hammon has been the topic of a lot of conversation recently, Hammon was named as an assistant coach for the defending NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs after announcing her retirement from the WNBA at the conclusion of this season. By hiring Hammon the Spurs broke barriers by becoming the first NBA franchise to hire a woman in an assistant coaching role full-time.
“It’s groundbreaking. No woman has ever been a part of anything that dealt with the NBA…Hopefully it opens doors for other women to get in there and get their feet wet, as far as the coaching on the NBA side.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Seimone Augustus
“I think it was a huge step for men’s athletics. Women, we know what we’re doing, we know basketball, it’s a game that we know well. I know that Becky has a wealth of knowledge and will be a tremendous asset. I’m just thrilled that someone as high profile as Gregg Popovich led the way. Because that’s what it takes to enact change.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve
During the final quarter Becky Hammon caught fire and showed the type of hustle and determination that has made her one of the greatest WNBA players to ever step onto the court. Behind great shooting from Sophia Young-Malcolm and precise passing from Danielle Robinson San Antonio put together a 16-2 run that saw the score tied with 4 minutes left in the contest.
The Lynx answered back with Seimone Augustus leading the charge. Augustus knocked down 3 jump shots in the final 2 minutes allowing Minnesota to push the lead back to multiple possessions, force the Stars to foul, and come away with a victory in game 1 of the 2014 playoffs 88-84.
Lindsay Whalen finished the night 3 rebounds shy of a triple-double with 10 points, 11 assists, and 7 rebounds. Starting forward Seimone Augustus finished with 16 points, 5 boards, and 3 assists. Kayla McBride claimed high points for San Antonio with 20, and Danielle Adams contributed a double double with 12 points and 10 boards. Becky Hammon put up 17 points to go with 5 assists, and 5 rebounds.
WNBA MVP Maya Moore led all scorers with 26 and added 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks.
“That’s pretty much what she (Maya Moore) has done all year, that’s why she’s the MVP. She’s just an absolute heck of a player. Not only offensively, but defensively, she’s so good. They’re a good basketball team, but she takes them to greatness.”
San Antonio Head Coach Dan Hughes