Women's basketball isn't a new topic for me when it comes to sports, but let's be real: the WNBA has never gotten a real shake at attention from me personally, nor from the media I consume. I try to be good about watching the Women's NCAA, especially for the epic UConn teams and the legendary Tennessee possibilities. But the WNBA has never been my cup of tea. I've watched games here and there, but never been drawn in.
Finally, there's a team (and a series!) that can do so. With Maya Moore moving on from college and playing in Minnesota and Angel McCoughtry popping up from nowhere (at least for me) on behalf of the Atlanta Dream, I've got stars to root for, as well as teams I can be interested in. While their NBA counterparts (the Timberwolves and the Hawks, respectively) might be hot and cold commodities in their league, these two teams seem to play basketball that is equal parts purist's perfection and flashy, up-and-down excitement.
While the Dream lost last season's Finals to the Seattle Storm, the Lynx have suffered through a drought. Minnesota hasn't made the playoffs in the WNBA since 2004. Despite the Dream's experience in the playoffs, the Lynx came away from the regular season with the better record, and thus got home-court advantage.
In Game 1, on Sunday night, McCoughtry had 33 points but couldn't bring her team with her on her own. She was a personal revelation, as I'd never even heard her name. Her toughness rivaled any that I've seen on the court, whether from a man or a woman. But the Lynx came away with the victory, at least partially because of their home-court advantage; the Target Center was packed with more than 15,000 people.
On Wednesday night, Game 2 was a similar story. McCoughtry astonished with xx points. She also chipped in 2 assists and 3 rebounds. Maya Moore, on the other hand, was in foul trouble all night, and managed only 8 points in 15 minutes. She was never a true factor on offense but contributed some integral defense as the game trickled away from the Dream. The Lynx refused to quit, fighting all night, and chipped away at the lead bit by bit, finally winding up with the win 101-95 over the Dream.
The real difference going forward might be some of the lesser-sung elements: the Lynx had a little trouble getting a bucket in the half-court set. The Dream will get to go back to their home-court, which, without the passionate fan base the Lynx have, could go either way. And, finally, the Lynx's X-Factor Seimone Augustus, who brings absolutely anything that a team needs in order to win, will have to continue doing something that is exceedingly difficult – namely, anything that's asked of her.
The best-of-five series shifts to Phillips Arena in Atlanta on Friday for game 3. The game tips at 6 PM MST and it'll be worth your time to watch.