The Minnesota Lynx look to instill some much-needed civic pride when they host the Atlanta Dream for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night.
The Don Best odds screen has the Lynx as 5 ½-point favorites with a total of 163 points. They lead the best-of-five series 1-0, with ESPN2 having the tip from Target Center at 8:00 p.m. (ET).
The sports scene has been bleak for the state of Minnesota. The Twins suffered through a disappointing 63-win season. The Vikings are 0-4 and one of the NFL’s worst teams. The NHL Wild and NBA Timberwolves aren’t expected to do much this season.
The one bright spot has been the Lynx (32-8 straight up, 25-15 against the spread) who are two games away from their first WNBA title in 13 years of existence. They hadn’t even won a playoff series before this year.
Game 1 of this series was on Sunday. The contest was all-tied at 62-62 before a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter blew it open. The game was never close after that and the 88-74 final easily ‘covered’ the 6 ½-point spread.
The Lynx are now 18-3 SU and 15-6 ATS at home this season. That includes 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in the playoffs.
Minnesota has been the league’s best team all year due to its balance and that’s continued in the postseason. All five starters are averaging at least 9.4 PPG, led by Seimone Augustus (20.4 PPG). Rookie of the Year Maya Moore is at 15.2 PPG as she tries to build on her two college championships at UConn.
Augustus had 22 points in the opener and Moore had 11, but the big surprise was Rebekkah Brunson. The 6-foot-2 forward powered her way to a season-high 26 points. She also pulled down 11 boards.
The Lynx out-rebounded Atlanta 40-28 with center Taj McWilliams-Franklin adding 10. They also had a whopping 11 blocks. Atlanta will be getting back center Erika de Souza for Wednesday and that can’t come soon enough after also getting killed in points in the paint (52-30).
The Dream (24-16 SU, 17-21-2 ATS) are making their second straight Finals appearance, getting swept by Seattle last year. This year’s regular season started slow at 3-9 SU (1-10-1 ATS) before finishing 17-5 SU (13-8-1 ATS).
Atlanta stayed hot through the Eastern Conference playoffs, sweeping Connecticut and then beating the Indiana Fever (83-67) on their court as 1-point favorites to end that series 2-1.
The last two games against Indiana were played without the 6-foot-5 de Souza, who left to play for her Brazilian national team. Atlanta was able to thrive with a smaller, quicker lineup, but that looked disastrous against Minnesota.
Angel McCoughtry will now get to move back from power forward to small forward. She kept the team in last game with 19 third-quarter points and 33 overall. She was also easily the leading scorer in the regular season (21.6 PPG).
Iziane Castro Marques can now go back to the bench, She was incredible in the final two games versus Indiana (27.5 PPG) but struggled in this Game 1 with 10 points (5-of-15 shooting from the field).
Atlanta is 11-10 SU and 9-11-1 ATS on the road. The ‘under’ is 4-1 in its last five games overall, with the 162 combined points scored in the opener just going ‘under’ the 163 ½-point total.
The ‘under’ is 6-1 in Minnesota’s last seven home games, surrendering just 68 PPG.
Minnesota has won and ‘covered’ all three meetings against Atlanta this year. All have been double-digit wins with an 87-74.3 average score.
Game 3 of this series will shift to Atlanta on Friday night.