The WNBA 2015 playoffs are coming to a tremendous close as the Minnesota Lynx will play against the Indiana Fever in a best out of five series. The two teams have had an incredible playoff run mixed with close, tense games and phenomenal individual performances. With Maya Moore leading the Lynx against Fever’s Tamika Catchings, the series looks to be a challenging match-up for both teams.
The Minnesota Lynx will be returning to the WNBA finals after a year of missing the finals for the first time in four years. The Lynx have an intimidating starting line-up, with a tour-de-force in Maya Moore, a basketball sensation since her college years. Moore has been an intense player in the WNBA since being drafted in 2011, becoming an all-star and Rookie of the Year, and leading her team to the Finals in her rookie year. She recently won the WNBA MVP award in 2014, three years after joining the league. In addition to Moore, the Lynx are filled with experienced veterans, such as Seimone Augustus, an all-star who won the 2011 WNBA Finals MVP honors. With Moore at the helm, the Lynx have finally reached the WNBA finals since 2011.
The Lynx’s playoff run started off strongly by defeating the Los Angeles Sparks on their third game in order to win a best-out-of-3 series. Moore had a strong showing throughout the series, with game point highs of 33, 27, and 20, respectively. The Lynx then moved to bout against the 2014 WNBA champion, the Phoenix Mercury, with premier center Brittney Griner, the back-to-back defensive player of the year.
The Lynx were able to sweep the best out of three series, with Maya Moore scoring 19 and 40, respectively. However, according to the WNBA, the last game of the Lynx-Mercury series was decided by a mistaken foul that led to the Lynx’s sweep. With such a shaky win, the Lynx advanced to the Finals with an unsteady game behind them.
Indiana Fever, however, presents a block in the road to the Lynx’s third championship win in five years. The Fever won the 2012 WNBA championship against the Lynx with their leader Tamika Catchings. Since joining the league in 2002, Catchings has been the Fever’s all-star player and leader. Catchings has been voted one of the top 15 players in WNBA history and, despite reduced minutes, plays in an all-star form.
The Fever has faced intimidating teams to reach the Finals. In the conference finals, the Fever faced Chicago Sky, where Elena Della Donna, the reigning MVP, awaited them. The Fever faced the Sky and, after two close games, which they both lost and won, the Fever overcame the Sky in the third game. The Fever then faced the New York Liberty, who is coached by current Coach of the Year Bill Laimbeer. Despite losing the first game, the Fever won the next two games, winning the last game by a 15-point margin.
Both teams have concerns surrounding their performance in the finals. The Lynx have narrowly escaped a third game against the Mercury.
More so, their overall performance depends heavily on Moore, who at times had been the only player scoring in the double digits. The Lynx cannot just depend on Moore to carry at minimum the scoring load for the next three games.
The Fever started each of their prior series with a loss, but were able to make strong comebacks in order to win them both. The team does not have a dependable scorer and usually relies on either effective teamwork or a strong individual performance. While a dependable overall player, Catchings is not as explosive as she was before and she will not be able to handle the offensive load entirely on her own.
The teams’ weaknesses may be seen as the strengths that have brought them to the final stage in the WNBA 2015 series, but only as the series advances will we know if the dependable superstar or the strong team effort will prevail. The teams will duke it out on Sunday, October 4th on ABC.
-Bar Hass ’16, Senior Sports Editor