The Minnesota Lynx are on the verge of a dynasty.
Maya Moore had 23 points, Rebekkah Brunson added 15 points and 12 rebounds and Lindsay Whalen chipped in 15 points and six assists as the Lynx closed out the 2013 WNBA Finals with a 86-77 win over the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night.
The team's official Twitter account had the post as the festivities began in Atlanta:
FINAL: LYNX WIN!! Your #Loslynx defeat the Dream 86-77! After a three game sweep, your Lynx have won the 2013 WNBA Championship Title!— Minnesota Lynx (@minnesotalynx) October 11, 2013
Moore was named WNBA Finals MVP, as the league's Twitter account confirmed with this post:
The former Connecticut star was a worthy selection for the award, but as this tweet from Richard Cohen of WNBAlien.com suggests, it was a team effort from Minnesota that allowed the franchise to win the title:
MVP's gonna be Maya if Lynx close this out because she's got the numbers, but such a team effort. Should go to Lindsmonaya McBrunight. #wnba— Richard Cohen (@RichardCohen1) October 11, 2013
All five Lynx starters finished in double figures. 2011 WNBA Finals MVP Seimone Augustus had 14 points and Janel McCarville added 10 as the Lynx had a lead after every quarter and used a third-quarter burst to pull away from the Dream for good.
Brunson made individual history to go along with her team's accomplishment, as this post from the WNBA states:
Minnesota has now won two of the last three WNBA titles. In the process, it avenged last season's loss to the Indiana Fever in dominant fashion with a postseason run that concluded with the 3-0 series sweep of Atlanta.
As this Instagram video from the WNBA shows, the champagne popping was well-deserved:
The Lynx did not lose a game (7-0) in the 2013 playoffs and recorded double-digit victories in five of those seven games. Head coach Cheryl Reeve and Co. were on a mission and it showed from the opening tip of the regular season to the final whistle in the playoffs.
Early on, it looked like the Lynx were headed for their third straight blowout win in as many tries. McCarville had six straight points to key a first-quarter spurt, and after Moore hit a layup at the 4:58 mark in the first quarter, the Dream found themselves in a 13-3 hole.
The Lynx's public relations Twitter account chronicled the stretch with this post:
But Atlanta would fight back, and managed to keep the deficit at 10 at the end of the first frame. Despite being behind 25-15, the Dream were able to stay within striking distance as Erika de Souza scored seven of her 12 points to close the quarter.
Atlanta then made its biggest run of the game to start the second period.
A 10-3 run allowed the Dream to cut the deficit to three points, and Angel McCoughtry's three-pointer actually tied things up at 30. From there, a back-and-forth struggled ended with Minnesota nursing a three-point lead heading into the locker room.
As noted by KSTP-TV Minnesota's Chris Long, the Lynx's early success didn't bear the fruit of an easy victory:
Atlanta's putting up a fight.@MinnesotaLynx are going to have to earn it if they're gonna win the title tonight. Lynx lead 40-37 at half.— Chris Long (@jclong) October 11, 2013
But the Lynx were the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and boasted the highest winning percentage in the WNBA for a reason—and it showed during the first half of the third quarter.
Faced with adversity for the first time in the series, the Lynx came out firing on all cylinders. They used a 20-7 run to create a 16-point lead by the 3:19 mark, and were able to parlay the stretch into a 66-56 lead heading into the final quarter of the season.
Oh, and McCarville was busy showcasing her skill in the process, as you can see in this tweet from BringMeTheSports:
While we make fun, Janel McCarville is busy making plays, sick dish between the legs to Brunson: http://t.co/jQmuv4634w— BringMeTheSports (@BringMNsports) October 11, 2013
The only reason Atlanta managed to stay in the game was because of Tiffany Hayes' efforts off the bench. She scored 10 of her 20 points in the third quarter, helping to keep Atlanta close despite the offensive onslaught from Minnesota.
In the end, though, her efforts would wind up being in vain.
Atlanta wouldn't get closer than seven during any point in the fourth quarter, and Minnesota celebrated its second WNBA Finals win at The Arena at Gwinnett Center as the clock ticked down to zero.
In the end, Minnesota was just too much for Atlanta across the board. The Dream should be commended for reaching the Finals for the third time in the last four seasons, but when you're clicking like Minnesota has been all season, perfect basketball is a requirement for an upset.
Unfortunately, it didn't play out like that for Atlanta. McCoughtry never got going in the series and was hounded by the physical nature of Reeve's squad each time she got the ball.
Although she was the WNBA regular-season scoring champion in 2013 at 21.5 points per game, McCoughtry averaged just 15.0 points in the series and finished the year with a 13-point effort on her home floor Thursday. Shots like this were few and far between in the series:
Hayes led Atlanta in scoring with 20, and Alex Bentley also had 18 points off the bench.
It's celebration time in Minnesota, and the Lynx are on a mission to put the WNBA, the Minnesota sports scene and even the world on notice—plan on seeing this team making deep postseason runs for the foreseeable future.
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