A new day dawns for Augustus, Lynx
INDIANAPOLIS -- Seimone Augustus didn't sleep much Friday night. She was replaying Game 3 of the WNBA Finals in her mind, reliving shots that didn't go in, the defensive stops that weren't made, the view of the game she had from spending most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
But she did finally doze off, and when she woke up to the sun shining through the hotel room window, it was time to start fresh.
There are few things as redemptive as a new day.
The Minnesota Lynx got one of those Saturday, hours after Friday night's miserable 76-59 loss to the Indiana Fever. How many more days they get now is up to them. Minnesota faces elimination in this series with Sunday night's Game 4 at the Bankers Life Fieldhouse. A win will send the series back to Minneapolis for Tuesday's Game 5.
Coach Cheryl Reeve barely formed full sentences Friday night after the game, but by Saturday afternoon she came into the Fever's practice gym with a smile on her face and playfully hugged Indiana guard Shavonte Zellous, the player who burned her team more than any other in Game 3 with a 30-point night.
"Anytime you lay an egg in the WNBA Finals, it doesn't feel very good," Reeve said. "At the same time, we understand the series is not over."
And so it is time to clean the slate and move forward for the Lynx, who haven't lost back-to-back games since a three-game losing streak in early July.
Interestingly, Indiana is going with the clean-slate approach as well.
Fever coach Lin Dunn wants to see the same hunger and energy she saw from her team Friday night. She said she doesn't think basking in the glow of Friday night's domination will get them there.
"We have to play the game [Sunday] as if we lost," Dunn said. "They are going to come in with an enormous amount of intensity. Just like they did after we stole Game 1. So we have to be ready for that -- they are not going to go away."
Briann January, the Fever point guard, agreed.
"There is no room for us to let up right now," January said. "It's so important to harness that same kind of energy that you would after a loss. If we bring anything less than that, we will be making a trip back to Minnesota. Everybody gets it.
"We know we are in a great situation. But we know we are here by focusing on the little things, on one quarter at a time, and that has been great for us. It's right there, but you won't get that trophy if you are just thinking about it. You have to go out and battle for it."
Saturday's rebound for Minnesota is more mental than physical.
With, at most, two games left in the season, you don't change who you are; you don't start changing schemes, or adjusting your strategy.
"The only difference last night was how hard they worked compared to how hard we worked," Augustus said. "Our starting five didn't work as hard."
The Lynx need to get back to a productive offense, where a variety of players are getting good looks and knocking them down, and a defensive effort that doesn't include getting shredded by Indiana's dribble penetration.
"Dribble penetration is always something that we don't want to happen where they get to the heart of your defense," said Minnesota's Maya Moore. "Indiana is very good at that, penetrating and kicking, so we'll work on making that difficult for them, and really locking in even more is going to be huge for us tomorrow."
Zellous finished with 30 points going to the rim with abandon. Erin Phillips and Tamika Catchings got their share of points driving to the basket.
Augustus said that is an issue of pride.
"That's on you. That's one-on-one," Augustus said. "That's digging in deep and saying 'You're not going to score on me.' They just put their heads down and they attacked, and we didn't give them any resistance."
The Fever had injury updates on Saturday. Jeanette Pohlen has a torn anterior cruciate ligament, will need surgery and obviously will miss the rest of the series. Katie Douglas remains a "glimmer" of a possibility in Sunday's game with her ankle injury. She was getting treatment during the team's Saturday workout, with Dunn hoping she might be able to get her to the walk-through.
"But if she's here, she's not getting treatment, and she needs to be getting treatment," Dunn said.
Lindsay Whalen said the Lynx are in a position where they have to re-prove themselves.
"What happened is one of those things where you have to learn from it and move on," Whalen said. "These are the Finals, you don't expect a 30-point game and it's not anything you have envisioned. But all you can do is do better the next game. And we have the opportunity to play again."