WNBA: Lynx cap challenging season with 3rd title
By Jace FrederickSt. Paul Pioneer Press MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Lynx likely cemented their dynasty on Wednesday night at Target Center. Minnesota beat Indiana 69-52 in Game 5 of a memorable WNBA Finals series in front of a franchise-record c...
By Jace Frederick
St. Paul Pioneer Press
MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Lynx likely cemented their dynasty on Wednesday night at Target Center.
Minnesota beat Indiana 69-52 in Game 5 of a memorable WNBA Finals series in front of a franchise-record crowd of 18,933 to claim its third title in five years.
This one might have been the most challenging. The Lynx battled injuries throughout the season. They lost all-stars Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus for extended periods of time because of injury, forcing forward Devereaux Peters and newly acquired guards Anna Cruz and Renee Montgomery into significant roles with ample playing time and increasing the load placed on star forward Maya Moore’s shoulders.
Still, Minnesota earned the top seed for the playoffs, which proved crucial as the Lynx were tested at every stop along their playoff run - unlike in their previous championship runs. Minnesota needed just eight playoff games to win the 2011 title and went a perfect 7-0 in the 2013 postseason.
The 2015 Lynx were pushed to the brink in the opening round, winning Game 3 at home to survive a challenge from Candace Parker and the Sparks. A controversial foul call in the waning seconds of Game 2 in Phoenix gave Minnesota a sweep over the Mercury. And that was just to get to the Finals, where Minnesota gutted out three victories against a game Fever squad.
Game 5 wasn’t always pretty - the Lynx shot 42 percent from the floor and turned the ball over 12 times. But that didn’t faze Minnesota’s veteran core, which has won in so many different ways over the past five seasons. The Lynx delivered a dominant defensive showing Wednesday night, holding the Fever to 36 percent shooting and forcing 19 turnovers.
Indiana led 17-15 after the first quarter, but Minnesota’s defense allowed just four points in the second to take a 27-21 lead into the break. The dominant defensive showing spilled into the third quarter, where the Fever mustered just eight points.
Offensively, 20 points from Sylvia Fowles and 16 from Seimone Augustus provided Minnesota’s offense with enough of a boost to pull away in the second half, as the veteran Lynx closed out Indiana with conviction. A Renee Montgomery steal and score at the third-quarter horn put Minnesota up 48-29 and put the Lynx fans on their feet as Minnesota wrapped up another championship and exacted a little revenge after it fell to Indiana in the 2012 Finals.
The question arose whether Minnesota’s title window was closed after last season’s exit in the Western Conference finals - clearly it wasn’t. Instead, Minnesota signed Moore to a multiyear contract extension and kept all of its core intact. Lynx general manager Roger Griffith made tweaks throughout the regular season such as the acquisitions of Fowles and Montgomery, and the 2015 Lynx were back in championship form.
As a result, the opening tip on the 2016 season will be delayed by a few minutes thanks to the raising of another banner.
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