There is more to the game of basketball than just the physical aspect. There is the mental component that if partnered can provide an insurmountable mountain to climb. That peak must seem about a million miles up to the Atlanta Dream after yet another 25 point loss to the Minnesota Lynx in game two of the WNBA Finals. Cliche as it may sound, the Lynx approach every game possession by possession. That mentality helped them to a dominating 88-63 win and it has them one game away for their second championship in three seasons.
"I thought a solid effort, not as good as game one but I thought in spurts we were pretty good," head coach Cheryl Reeve said after her 18th postseason victory. "Sloppy with our turnovers. 20 for 25 points, that's not something we can do against these guys. Our effort on the glass was something I told them I really enjoyed watching. I really have enjoyed them embracing the idea that if we get that done we have a chance to be successful."
The Lynx shot a WNBA Finals best 56.9 percent from the field and despite not playing their best game with 20 turnovers and less than stellar free throw shooting have won all 80 minutes of the five game series.
"It's right there," said Seimone Augustus. "We have 40 more minutes, 80 more possessions to get to here we want to be and get to what we feel like we deserve "
All five starters finished in double figures with Augustus leading the way with 20 points. Defensively, the team shut down and frustrated the Dream and superstar Angel McCoughtry who is just 11-for-42 in the series. McCoughtry fouled out of the game late in the fourth quarter after being noticeably frustrated for much of the game.
"I mean, it's the Finals," said Augustus who seems to own the Dream. "I don't know if it's exactly the Atlanta Dream, but the Finals tend to bring the best out of any player because you're playing for everything. It's the title. Everything is on the line."
Despite seven turnovers, Lindsay Whalen set the tone early with aggressive play to the basket. She finished with 14 points, but knows that if the team is going to close out the series the team will need to clean up the mistakes.
"I think we just had the mentality the whole season of just playing together, making plays for each other, and just taking it one possession at a time," said Whalen. "Of course it wasn't our best game. We had a lot of turnovers tonight, some miscues and things like that. But all things we know we can fix and clean up. We'll watch the video. We'll learn from it."
The series shifts to Atlanta and game three on Thursday night and Dream head coach Alex Bentley and his team hope the change of venue and their home crowd will make a difference.
"Making and missing shots is all part of the game. Some nights you're going to be on and some nights you're going to be off," said Bentley. "When we're off, we need to find different ways to score."
The key to their domination in this years playoffs in which the Lynx have went a perfect 5-0 and have defeated their foes by just under 20 points per game. Maya Moore set the tone early as McCoughtry drove for what appeared to be an easy layup. Moore had other ideas and swatted the ball about six rows deep sending the crowd into a frenzy.
"When we did get what we wanted, it was really fun and they had to take the ball out of the net and try to score against our half court set," Moore said.
Rebekah Brunson finished with a double-double and crashed the boards in the first quarter pulling down seven rebounds. She finished the first half with nine, the same total as the entire Dream team. Despite finishing with 12 points and 10 rebounds, Brunson knows the Dream are going to fight on Thursday night.
"Their backs are up against the wall," said Brunson. "They are a team that plays really good at home, too. We don't expect anything less than an amazing effort from them."
So in a best of three series, the Lynx need one win or 40 minutes, 80 possessions to capture their second championship in franchise history.
"We don't want to have to come back to Minneapolis," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "When we come back to Minneapolis, it's going to be for a parade, not to play Game 5."