WNBA Finals between Lynx and Fever go to decisive Game 5

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) It’s only fitting these WNBA Finals are going the distance.

“It’s absolutely been a great series,” Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve said. “Four really, really hard fought games. Why not go to a Game 5? It’s been that good of a series. It’s one of those things that people like to see. I think it’s good for the game. Good to have eyes on our product right now because there’s a lot of great things to watch and a lot of great people out there putting it all out there.”

This is the first time since 2009 the league’s championship has gone the full length. Game 5 is Wednesday night in Minneapolis, where the Fever won Game 1.

“It gives us confidence knowing that we’ve been able to win on the road all season long,” Indiana coach Stephanie White said. “We’re happy to be playing another day.”

Indiana won 75-69 on Sunday night in Game 4. As they’ve done all postseason, the Fever found a way to stave off elimination. Indiana is 5-0 in the playoffs this season in elimination games. Starting with their run to the franchise’s lone title in 2012, the Fever are 9-2 in elimination games.

The only other series to make it to a fifth game since the WNBA started playing best-of-five in 2005 were in 2006 and 2007. History may be on Indiana’s side. The team that won the championship in all three of those series lost Game 3.

Maya Moore, who hit a buzzer-beating shot for the Lynx in Game 3, can appreciate what this series has meant.

“It’s been a fun one to watch,” she said. “Especially the last few games have been very fun from a fans standpoint. Lots of great things happening, players making plays. If I was to say where do I want to finish my season, it would be at the Target Center.”

Now the Lynx return home with a chance to win their third title in five years. Only the Houston Comets won more in a similar stretch when they took the first four WNBA championships. The Lynx won their previous two titles on the road, in Atlanta in 2011 and 2013. They’ll have a chance to win one in front of their home fans.

“Great opportunity for us and our fans who have been with us all season,” Moore said. “That’s the beauty of it. Be ourselves at homes. We have a really good chance if we do that.”

Tamika Catchings has been a huge reason for the Fever’s postseason run, seemingly willing them to victories.

“This was a great series for the WNBA, great for women’s basketball,” Catchings said. “It’s great it’s on TV and so many people are locked into this that have never seen a WNBA game. Never been interested in women’s basketball. Basketball is basketball. You can’t deny there’s great competition on both sides. Great plays on both sides of the ball. It’s only fitting that we go to Game 5. We’ll go to Minnesota and the place will be loud. That’s what you play for.”

Catchings announced before the season she will retire after the 2016 season. She has spent her whole career in Indiana, getting to the title series three times. She was on the team that lost to Phoenix in Game 5 in 2009.

“We’ve been very blessed as an organization to be able to make the playoffs 11 years straight,” she said. “But making it to the finals, out of 11 years, we’ve only been there three times. So this doesn’t happen every single year, and every game you have to take advantage of your next opportunity.”

 

AP source: Liz Cambage traded from Dallas to Las Vegas

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The Liz Cambage trade saga is finally over.

The 6-foot-8 Australian has been traded from Dallas to Las Vegas for Moriah Jefferson, Isabelle Harrison and the Aces’ first two picks in 2020, according to a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because the deal hasn’t been announced.

Cambage, who finished second behind Breanna Stewart in WNBA MVP balloting last year, said in January she no longer wanted to play in Dallas. Potential deals the past few weeks that never materialized had weighed on Cambage, who took to social media with emotional posts this week. Cambage is in Australia and is expected to get to Las Vegas this weekend.

The 27-year-old center set a league record last season by scoring 53 points against New York. She averaged 23 points and 9.7 rebounds last year.

The move gives the Aces a formidable frontcourt by pairing Cambage with rookie of the year A’ja Wilson.

Dallas receives a point guard in Jefferson and a talented post player in Harrison. Jefferson was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 draft by the franchise when it was in San Antonio. She averaged 13.9 points as a rookie but injured her knee in 2017.

She was limited to just 16 games last season. Harrison was the No. 12 pick in 2015 by Phoenix, but missed her rookie season with a knee injury. She had a breakout year in 2017, averaging 11.4 points and 6.4 rebounds. She sat out last season because of a medical issue.

Cambage was the No. 2 pick in the 2011 draft. She played that season and in 2013 for the Tulsa Shock but sat out in 2012 and again from 2014-2017. The franchise moved to Dallas in 2016. Cambage returned to the WNBA last season with Dallas and hit it off with Wings coach Fred Williams. Cambage took it hard when Williams was fired a few weeks before the end of the season. Williams is an assistant with the Sparks.

After last season, Cambage left the door open to not returning to the WNBA, citing the league’s low salaries. She excelled for Australia at last fall’s FIBA World Cup, helping the team earn a silver medal. Cambage told the AP at the World Cup she would take some time to decide whether she wanted to come back the WNBA.

Follow Doug Feinberg on Twitter at https://twitter.com/DougFeinberg

Lynx star Maya Moore to skip ’19 WNBA season

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore has decided to skip the upcoming WNBA season, seeking more time to devote to her family and her faith.

Moore announced Tuesday on The Players’ Tribune website that she’ll sit out in 2019. She already had taken the fall and winter off from international competition. The five-time first-team All-WNBA honoree has helped the Lynx win four championships since her rookie year, 2011.

“The success that I’ve been a part of in basketball truly blows my mind every time I think about it,” Moore said in her post. “But the main way I measure success in life is something I don’t often get to emphasize explicitly through pro ball.”

Raised by a single mother with strong Christian beliefs, Moore has spoken often about her desire for a well-rounded life steered by biblical principles . She quoted from scripture in her brief essay and, without citing specifics, said she plans to invest time in “some ministry dreams that have been stirring in my heart for many years.”

Reforming the justice system has been a particular passion of hers , including a personal interest she has taken in the case of Jonathan Irons , who was imprisoned in Missouri in 1997 by what his supporters contend was a wrongful burglary conviction at age 16.

“I’m sure this year will be hard in ways that I don’t even know yet, but it will also be rewarding in ways I’ve yet to see, too,” Moore wrote. “I’m thankful to my Lynx family and others close to me who have been walking with me during this shift, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”

Last season was only the second time since Moore was drafted first overall that the Lynx didn’t reach the WNBA Finals. Moore was eighth in the league in minutes and seventh in points in 2018. She has missed one game in eight seasons, with career averages of 18.4 points and 5.9 rebounds per game.

“We support her in this exploration and will continue to provide her the love and care she has always known from her Lynx family,” general manager and head coach Cheryl Reeve said in a statement distributed by the team.

Moore, who went to high school in the Atlanta area she now calls home, was given the franchise tag last month by the Lynx, preventing her from becoming a free agent. The 29-year-old, who won the WNBA Most Valuable Player award in 2014, expressed her fatigue — and her eagerness for some extended rest — near the end of the 2018 season, which saw the Lynx ousted in the first round of the playoffs. The league compressed the 34-game schedule by three weeks from the 2017 slate.

Moore was the top vote-getter for the All-Star game last summer in Minnesota, but she passed on the team captain responsibility that would have required her to draft from the 22-player pool. Candace Parker of the Los Angeles Sparks took her place, joining Elena Delle Donne of the Washington Mystics in assembling the sides. Moore had 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists in the exhibition to earn her third straight All-Star Game MVP award.

Moore also opted out of the Women’s Basketball World Cup, the first major event she wasn’t on the U.S. national team for since the 2008 Summer Olympics, which took place before the start of her sophomore season at powerhouse Connecticut.

The Lynx, too, are in flux following the retirement of five-time All-Star point guard Lindsay Whalen, who became coach at her alma mater, Minnesota. They start their season May 25 against Chicago.