After finishing the regular season at the top of the Western Conference, and securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs. The Minnesota Lynx started the series with an impressive win against the Seattle Storm 80-64.
Rebekkah Brunson earned her nickname ‘The Machine’ as her hustle and effort was the driving force for the Lynx during a close first half. Brunson finished the game leading all players in rebounds with 9, and second among scorers with 18 points.
“I just try and set the tone for my team and lead by example. I know that the playoffs is a new series and a new season. You have to go out there and elevate your game to a new level. I just try to go out there and set the tone immediately and I know that my team is going to follow.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson
Expectations are high for a Lynx team that finished the season with a league best 26-7 record, but the playoffs are never simple. The Storm reminded them of that fact early, and held their ground against the Lynx during the first half only finding themselves down by 4 going into the break.
It was a well-rounded effort that put them there, with Tina Thompson hawking the glass, Temeka Johnson leading the offensive break, and strong support from Tanisha Wright. Unfortunately for the Storm, they could not maintain their composure shooting 11-29 from the floor during the second half, and had difficulty finding answers for the Lynx many offensive weapons.
“I just think that we need to play a complete game. I think that the first half was very good for us. Minnesota is a very good team, especially offensively, so they’re going to make runs, but it felt like we were still in the game. We had a couple of lulls in the third quarter and then the game got away from us.”
Seattle Storm forward Tina Thompson
Lynx guard Maya Moore showed that she has the ability to recover from a rough start. After converting on just 1 of 9 first half shot attempts, Maya turned it around making 5 of her 6 second half attempts. Moore finished the night with 17 points, 6 assists, 4 rebounds, 3, steals, and a block.
Seimone Augustus yet again provided great poise leading all scorers with 19 points by playing an extremely smart brand of basketball, and allowing Minnesota to recover from any scoring droughts by knocking down shots at key moments.
“We want to take advantage of our homecourt situation…and that’s what we did tonight. We just came out and played good basketball and played well as a team and got the success we were looking for.”
Minnesota Lynx forward Seimone Augustus
This was a back and forth game early, but in the third quarter the Lynx found their stride and took advantage of every opportunity the Storm presented them with. After pulling ahead the Lynx finished off the quarter with two big 3-point shots, one by Monica Wright with 33 seconds left, and the other by Maya Moore with 1.8 seconds left to close out the quarter.
Monica Wright seemed to struggle during the first half, but was able to make a significant impact on both sides of the ball the second half. In addition, second-year reserve Devereaux Peters showed why she has been getting more minutes as of late, as the two gave the Lynx what they needed from the bench to win in game 1.
Seattle played a good game, moving the ball quite well, and finished the game with five players on their roster in double-digits. It’s a good indication of how this team has managed to stay competitive.
“We have one option: to win on Sunday…For us, we need to focus on nothing but winning this game. Doing exactly what we need to do and prepare ourselves in a way we can win this basketball game.”
Seattle Storm guard Tanisha Wright
Lindsay Whalen and Janel McCarville shared the floor during a playoff game for the first time since their University of Minnesota days, and both played good intensity, high effort minutes. Neither one lit up the box scores, but both players were key contributors as the Lynx held off the Storm.
Looking ahead to game 2, both teams showed in game 1 that playoffs can change the dynamics of a game, and that execution is the key to survival during post-season. What remains to be seen is how each team will respond Sunday in Seattle, with the Storm fighting to stay alive, and the Lynx on the verge of moving into the Western Conference finals for the third consecutive season, it should be a great game.
“Great way to open the 2013 Playoffs for us here at home. We accomplished some things that we had worked on through the week. We still have more we can do. That’s what this group is talking about. Some of the stuff that we worked on through the week that we didn’t get done, we’re going to lock in on and focus for Game 2. But it’s a 120-minute series and we won the first 40. We’ve got to get ready to move on to the second 40.”
Minnesota Lynx Head Coach Cheryl Reeve