Lynx’s Whalen, Augustus need to get going in WNBA Finals
MINNEAPOLIS — Minnesota Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve didn’t hide her displeasure with stars Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen after Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.
A day after losing to the Indiana Fever on their home court, Reeve said she has to do a better job of putting Whalen in position to succeed and also made it clear she has not been happy with how the physical point guard has had to adjust her game after not getting calls from the officials in the paint.
"It’s been a season-long struggle for her to overcome," Reeve said Monday. "So she’s changed her game because of it. And I think it’s really important that Lindsay Whalen be Lindsay Whalen and I’m going to try to help her do that."
Whalen scored four points and attempted just three shots in the series-opening, 75-69 loss to the Fever. Augustus scored nine points on 3-for-11 shooting.
"Both Lindsay and Seimone have to help us more offensively," Reeve said after the game. "They didn’t get the job done. Either one of them, and we need more from them."
Game 2 is Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
Reeve has never been one to mince words in her assessment of her team, the league or its officials. But hearing her challenge Whalen in particular was eye-opening given the close relationship the two have developed through a run of four WNBA Finals appearances in five years. They are often seen chatting during the game, collaborating on strategies and adjustments.
Whalen was on the bench for the final 6:30 of the game as Reeve went with the quicker Anna Cruz at point guard to try and contain Indiana’s Briann January.
"Lindsay hasn’t found a way to help this team offensively in a long time," Reeve said after the game. "She’s got to get back to letting the game come to her."
Maya Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds and Sylvia Fowles had 21 points and 11 boards for the Lynx, who lacked the balance that they have become known for. The fifth starter, Rebekkah Brunson, had just one point and three rebounds.
"We know we can’t let all of them go off," January said. "We’re going to make adjustments in our defense, and we’re going to have different schemes, but we have to individually take pride in our defense and lock people down."
The Fever play a physical defense predicated on active hands from their perimeter defenders, and they forced 15 turnovers that led to 16 points. Speaking about the season as a whole and not just Game 1, Reeve said officials allowing the extra contact has hurt Whalen’s game as much as any player.
"She’s had to adjust to a new style because it’s not the same when she goes in there," Reeve said. "Every game we’ll go, `Whalen doesn’t get that call.’ And it’s really discouraging. She’s trying to find ways to help her team and trying to Whalen-like things. It’s been a little bit harder for her."
Reeve also said that "part of Lindsay’s problem is me." She said she will look at ways to free Whalen up.
"We all know what coach expects," Whalen said. "We know what we need to do and when we need to step up. That’s part of being together for so long."
Augustus said hearing the blunt assessment from Reeve was nothing new for her.
"That’s the way she’s always been," she said. "She’s been very vocal with what she needs. She’s a coach that expresses whatever it is. And we’ve always been (accepting of) what she says. We don’t disagree. … We just take it and keep pushing."