MINNEAPOLIS – Maya Moore seemingly has home-court advantage throughout the WNBA Finals.
The Minnesota Lynx standout has taken her play to a higher level this season, fulfilling the promise she had as one of the most celebrated college players ever when she was drafted No. 1 three years ago.
Moore and the Lynx are playing for the championship for the third consecutive year.
Game 1 is Sunday against the Atlanta Dream, the team the Lynx beat in Moore’s rookie season to capture the franchise’s first championship. The Lynx had the best record in the league this season, so the best-of-five series starts in Minneapolis.
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But even when it shifts to Georgia for Game 3, Moore will feel at home. The Dream’s Philips Arena in downtown Atlanta is hosting Disney On Ice, so the building isn’t available.
Thus Game 3 will be at the Arena at Gwinnett Center in Duluth, Ga., about 25 miles north of Atlanta. Forward Moore will know her way around.
Before she became a college star at Connecticut, Moore led Collins Hill High School to three straight Georgia high-school championships, with each title game played at Gwinnett Center.
“I know Maya’s excited,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I hope she can contain herself. Maya will show us around if we’re unsure of things.”
Moore, who was runner-up to Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks in voting for league most valuable player, smiled when Gwinnett was mentioned.
“It will definitely be special,” she said. “I’ll be super-focused on the game. Hopefully it can be a win for the Lynx and I can enjoy that area to the full because I played well.”
In the 2011 WNBA Finals, the fresh-faced Lynx swept the Dream. Minnesota closed out the Dream on its home floor in Atlanta with a 73-67 victory.
Lynx guard Seimone Augustus was named MVP of the series, which was the first championship series in league history to feature two teams coached by women.
Guard-forward Angel McCoughtry led Atlanta to the title round in 2010 and 2011, but clashed with then-coach Marynell Meadors and was suspended last season.
Meadors was replaced by Fred Williams.
McCoughtry re-signed with the Dream and led the league in scoring (21.5 points) for the second consecutive season.