MINNEAPOLIS – Their disappointing experience last year showed the Minnesota Lynx the danger of a loss at home to open the WNBA Finals.
This time, they left no doubt about who is in early control of the series.
Maya Moore had 23 points, including three three-pointers in the first quarter to fuel a strong start, and the Lynx delivered a dominant 84-59 victory over the Atlanta Dream in Game 1 on Sunday night.
“I think we’re setting ourselves up for success,” said Monica Wright, who had 20 points off the bench and teamed with Rebekkah Brunson to fluster league scoring leader Angel McCoughtry into 6-for-24 shooting for 17 points plus five turnovers.
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Moore shot 10 for 16 from the floor and grabbed seven rebounds, and Seimone Augustus scored 19 points. The Lynx led the entire game, shot 49.4 percent from the field and stymied the Dream into 0-for-15 shooting from three-point range.
“People will doubt us already, but that’s OK. We’ll be back for a dogfight on Tuesday,” McCoughtry said. “Everybody has cold days. This is a cold day.”
Aneika Henry added 14 points, but Jasmine Thomas shot 3 for 15 from the field. The Dream fell to 0-7 in the Finals since 2010. They were swept by the Storm in 2010 and the Lynx in 2011.
Game 2 is in Minnesota on Tuesday night, with the best-of-five matchup shifting to Georgia for Game 3 on Thursday.
“They looked really good. They were sharp. And we got hit in the mouth,” said Dream guard Armintie Herrington.
Their four-game loss to Indiana in the Finals last season not forgotten, the Lynx have played with more of an edge this season, welcoming the tenacity, strength and slick passing ability of center Janel McCarville to the lineup to join her old pal Lindsay Whalen from their days together at the University of Minnesota.
Henry and Erika de Souza gave the Dream some early production inside, but the Lynx didn’t bother tussling much with them in the post. They snagged the defensive rebounds they needed, enjoying a 31-19 advantage in that category, and simply launched swish after swish from the corners and the wings with some hustling, highlight-reel fast breaks mixed in.
The Lynx went on a 15-0 run in the second quarter to pull away, with five players scoring during the spurt. They had 14 assists in the first half, compared with four for the Dream.
“You could sense the frustration, like the body language of their team,” Augustus said.
“Once Angel was out of it, that’s the leader of their team. The team kind of falls to the side a little bit.”
Moore has 109 points in five playoff games this year.