Saturday, October 13, 2012
Capsule preview for the WNBA Finals
A look at the best-of-five WNBA Finals, which start Sunday:
MINNESOTA LYNX (27-7) VS INDIANA FEVER (22-12)
Season Series: Lynx won 2-0 by a total of nine points.
Minnesota: The defending champions outlasted fourth-seeded Seattle with a 73-72 win at home in Game 3 of the opening round, and then swept second-seeded Los Angeles in two games in the Western Conference finals. The Lynx, seeking to become the league's first back-to-back champions since the Sparks in 2001-02, returned nearly their entire roster from a year ago and matched their franchise record for wins set last season. They are also 19-1 at home this year, including 3-0 in the playoffs. Seimone Augustus (16.6 ppg, 3.6 rpg) appears fully recovered from a sprained right foot that forced her to miss three games down the stretch as she is averaging 19.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in the postseason. Maya Moore (16.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.6 apg) picked up her production in her second season and Rebekkah Brunson (11.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg) averaged 14.0 points and 11.0 boards in the first two rounds. Lindsay Whalen (11.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.4 apg) injured her left wrist in the opening round against Seattle, but still averaged 14.5 points, 4.0 assists and 30.0 minutes against the Sparks while shooting 54 percent from the field. And now the veteran point guard will have had a week between games when the Finals start. Minnesota led the league in scoring (85.9), but is down slightly at 80.8 in the postseason.. The Lynx, tied for tops in 3-point shooting at 40 percent during the season, are at 37 percent from beyond the arc after going 16 for 39 against Los Angeles. Minnesota also lost once in the conference semis a year ago and then swept in the next two rounds to win the franchise's first title. Moore averaged 22.0 points and 7.0 rebounds, and Whalen added 13.5 points and 4.5 assists in the two regular-season wins against Indiana. Augustus missed the teams' first matchup on Sept. 14 -- a two-point win at Indiana -- but had eight points in the seven-point win at home three days later.
Indiana: After overpowering Atlanta in Game 3 at home in the opening round, the Fever dominated top-seeded Connecticut on the road in the decisive third game of the East finals to reach the title round for the second time in four seasons. Now, after losing to Phoenix in five games in the Finals in 2009, the Fever will try again to win the franchise's first championship. Indiana matched the franchise record for victories in the regular season, set in 2009, to earn the conference's No. 2 seed. After going 9-8 on the road during the season, the Fever have won two of three on the road in the playoffs. Indiana will need at least one win at the Target Center, where the Lynx have lost just once this year. However, the Fever won four times in their previous five trips to Minneapolis before this season. Tamika Catchings (17.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.1 apg) and Katie Douglas (16.5 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.2 apg) set the tone for the Fever, but Douglas sprained her ankle in the finale against the Sun and her status is uncertain for the opener of the Finals. Catchings is averaging 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in the postseason and Douglas was averaging 25.0 points in the three games before her injury. Briann January (10.3 ppg, 3.9 apg) increased her scoring to 12.5 points in the first two rounds, and Erlana Larkins has averaged 10.8 points and 10.2 rebounds in the playoffs -- including three double-digit rebounding games after accomplishing the feat just once during the season. January and Erin Phillips will need to step up if Douglas is limited or can't play. Indiana tied Minnesota for tops in 3-point shooting at 40 percent during the season, and are at 38 percent in the postseason -- including a 10-for-16 effort in the finale against the Sun. Catchings averaged 16. 5 points and 11.0 rebounds in the two regular-season games against Minnesota, and January added 15.0 points and 4.5 assists.
Prediction: Minnesota in 5.
Follow Vin A. Cherwoo on Twitter: www.twitter.com/VinCherwooAP