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.”