On a Lynx team that often gets described as having a "Big Three" that doesn't include Rebekkah Brunson, the veteran power forward is still one of the team's most important players — if not the most important, at least in certain situations. Her 13-point, 19-rebound effort set the tone in the Western Conference finals against Phoenix, helping send the Lynx on a path to their fourth WNBA Finals series in five years. With Game 1 set for Sunday against Indiana at Target Center, Brunson chatted with the Star Tribune's Michael Rand.
Q I was just talking with Lindsay Whalen about your will as a rebounder and that she hasn't come across many players, if any, who can match it. Where does that come from?
A I can't say exactly where that comes from, but I feel like it's just the desire to play hard and to work hard. With that, I've been blessed with the ability to rebound. With that blessing and determination and will to go out and do that, it kind of all comes together.
Q Is that what it takes to be a great rebounder?
A It does. It's really about going and continuing to go — about being relentless. That's really what it's about. … I've always been a great rebounder and it's always been something I've known I can do personally to help whatever team I've been on. I just carry that with me throughout my career.
Q How do you think about the evolution of your contributions and the team's success over the last five years?
A We just have a great team. We have great people who are blessed to be great athletes and great players. First and foremost, they're great people. We've tried to keep that together for the seasons I've been here to continue to grow as a family. And that pays off on the court.
Q How much different is it this year, a fifth go-round as a team that's among the best in the league and making another deep playoff run?
A Every year has been different. I think at some point throughout the seasons, particularly the last three years, we've faced some kind of adversity we've had to get through. The seasons haven't necessarily been easy for us, where we've just come out and beat everybody. We've had our ups and downs, but we just keep continuing to want to fight for each other and do whatever it takes no matter who's on the floor.
Q With a veteran team like this, do you feel like there's another level that you get to once the playoffs start?
A I think you have to be able to turn it up, but I think that comes from all the work you put in during the regular season. You can't just go through the regular season and feel like, 'When the playoffs come, we're going to turn it on.' Because you're not going to be ready. Whatever you're able to give in the finals, it comes from all the growth during the regular season.
Q Is this the revenge playoff tour — first you knocked off Phoenix and now you get another shot at Indiana, the two teams who have beaten you in the playoffs in the last four seasons?
A We have goals and we have places we want to be. It really doesn't matter who we play. It's all about us and what we're going to do.