MINNEAPOLIS – Midway through the fourth quarter of Game 1 of the WNBA Finals, Minnesota power forward Rebekkah Brunson rose in the lane toward the basket with her team trying to mount a rally.
Indiana center Erlana Larkins delivered the emphatic rejection.
Brunson was knocked to the floor as her shot was swatted, and Minnesota’s chance to win the series opener essentially fell down with her. The Lynx were trailing 65-62 with about five minutes left, but they never came closer. The Fever quickly tacked on a layup on the other end and cruised to a 76-70 victory on Sunday.
“It was what I call a thunder block,” Fever coach Lin Dunn said. “She is rising up and she just slides that ball, and it just kind of set the tone: ‘Hey, we’re here for real, and we are ready to play.’ ”
The Lynx, who are looking to become the league’s first repeat champion in 10 years, are at full attention.
“We want to make sure that we’re not a team that gets out-hungered. That is really important,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We’ve got a lot to overcome, and we’ll see if we’re able to.”
Game 2 is today at Target Center before the best-of-five series shifts to Indiana for Game 3 on Friday.
“We’ve got a lot of competitors on our team that really hate to lose, so I guess in Game 2 you’ll see the difference,” Lynx shooting guard Seimone Augustus said. “You’ll see us come out and be a little bit more aggressive from start to finish. We’re going to play and give it all that we have.”
The Fever spent Monday getting massages at a spa before reconvening Tuesday for practice. The two-day layoff between games probably wasn’t enough for veteran shooting guard Katie Douglas, though. After spraining her left ankle in the last game of the Eastern Conference finals, Douglas did not play in Game 1. Dunn said Douglas is improving but unlikely to play today.
“Hopeful for Friday,” Dunn said.