Greetings from Galen Center on the University of Southern California campus, where the Lynx are warming up for tonight's WNBA Finals Game 3 against Los Angeles. The game is being played at USC rather than Staples Center because the NHL's LA Kings have their home opener against Philadephia tonight at Staples. The Sparks brought their regular floor up Figueroa Street for tonight's game, and the teams move back to Staples for Saturday's practice and Sunday's Game 4.
A bit of news this afternoon: the Lynx's Maya Moore was named to the all-WNBA first team, and Sylvia Fowles was named to the second team. Moore, who was third in the MVP voting this season, made the first team for the fourth consecutive year. The team was topped by Sparks forward Nneka Ogwumike, this year's league MVP, and also included New York center Tina Charles; Chicago forward Elena Delle Donne; and Seattle guard Sue Bird. Ogwumike was the only unanimous selection.
Moore finished fifth in the WNBA in scoring with 19.3 points per game. Fowles ranked fourth in the WNBA in rebounds (8.5 per game), fourth in blocks (1.79 per game) and 11th in steals (1.32). The second team also included Atlanta forward Angel McCoughtry; Seattle forward Breanna Stewart; Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi; and Seattle guard Jewell Loyd.
A few things to look for in tonight's game:
--The Lynx have outrebounded LA by 22 in the first two games, and the Sparks are determined not to get beat on the boards again. The Lynx scored 17 second-chance points in Game 2 and limited the Sparks' scoring chances. Forward Essence Carson said the Sparks need to keep track of Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson and get more physical with them. "We have to do our job, and that's putting a body on them,'' Carson said.
--Neither team has connected well from three-point range in the series. The Lynx are 3 of 17, and the Sparks are 6-32. LA is the top team in the WNBA at defending the three, and guard Kristi Toliver is usually a sharpshooter on the perimeter. Can either team heat up in Game 3?
--The Lynx looked very relaxed, yet focused, in warmups. They skipped the morning shootaround and instead went through the game plan at the hotel. Coach Cheryl Reeve said "it was more about the mental focus'' as they prepared for Game 3 after a good day of practice Thursday.
The Sparks will look to be more aggressive after a Game 2 loss in which they felt their focus and urgency was lacking. But Toliver--who can be very emotional--noted that she has to ride a fine line. She said there were times in Game 2 when her team needed to "take a pause'' and did not.
"I think I'll always have to maintain my aggressiveness,'' she said. "But I have to think about the game better. I can't get too emotional during the game. In these playoffs, everything feels amplified. I need to take a step back and refocus. That will help me regain my composure and get my teammates the right shots.''
Reeve expects Game 3 to resemble the first game of the season between the Lynx and LA, when both teams were undefeated. That game, she said, was "high level, high intensity, up and down and fun to watch.''
Sounds good to me. Enjoy the game!