Lynx outrebound Sparks 48-28 in a rebound game to force a winner takes all game five.
“Our hustle game…getting on the glass, that’s what its all about,” Reeve said. “This is a group that rises to the challenge.”
Prior to game four, when the Los Angeles Sparks were within one game from closing out the series on their home court, Candace Parker credited Lynx for being a team who steps up for playing with their backs against the wall. She was right and just when Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve voiced her frustration with the starting lineup in game three they stepped up big in game four to win 80-69, Sunday.
“I love the way we competed for 40 minutes,” Maya Moore told ESPN postgame.
Coming into this game the message was nothing in game one or game three matters, Reeve said.
“The only thing important is the next 75 possessions that we had to play,” she said.
An individual who stepped up was Rebecca Brunson. She’s seeking five WNBA titles and would be the first to ever reach that if Lynx win game five. Determined to make history she put up a double-double Sunday clearing 13 boards while scoring 18 points.
“Rebecca…is someone that responds…she is a huge part of our identity. Having her on the floor is important to us,” Reeve said. “I’m proud of the way she played.”
Another veteran starter who stepped up was their point guard and hometown hero Lindsay Whalen, who was coming off a scoreless performance were she was sidelined for Renee Montgomery in game three. While her benching had more to do with Reeve liking how Montgomery measured up to Sparks she’s proud of Whalen’s ability to bounce back off a limited and disappointing performance in game three.
“She’s just critical to our team. She’s our field general…we feed off Lindsay,” Reeve said of the team leader in assist with eight in game three. “She was persistant, just as Brunson…I thought she was tough minded…its her toughnest that has made Lindsay Whalen the player she is today.”
One play physical play Whalen made on defense was disruptting a layup attempt from Odyssey Sims. Consequently, Whalen was charged with a technical foul on a play Reeve believes years ago would just be a regular foul.
“The new rules in the world we live in its deemed unnecessary,” Reeve said. But “you just don’t want to give your opponent anything easy.”
This year’s 2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles also put up a double-double dropping 22 points and racking up 14 rebounds. While scoring in the paint was a priority she also wanted to make sure they outrebounded the Sparks, she said in the post game press conference.
In game two Fowles record performance with 17 rebounds, most in a WNBA Finals game, lifted the Lynx to a victory so she was determined to make sure they get that edge in game four.
Heading back to The Barn in Dinkytown in Minneapolis on the campus of University of Minnesota was the goal but there’s work to do in a pivotal game five.
“Nothing is guaranteed. You never really know what’s going to happen out there,” Brunson said.
After losing last year’s WNBA Finals on their homecourt Reeve knows this is a team up for the challenge.
“We’ve been in tough finals series before, as early as last year, we’re a team that’s tough minded, resislent. when our back is against the wall, I think we share that with them [Sparks],” Reeve said. “They have this fire in their belly that is second to none…its been a group that just has so much confidence in themselves.”
Game five of the WNBA Finals tips off Wednesday night.