Minnesota Lynx's Maya Moore (23) celebrates a last-second basket by teammate Lindsay Whalen (13) during the second quarter in Game 2 of the WNBA basketball Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Mercury, Sunday, Sept. 25, 2011, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
Courtesy of the best regular-season record in the league, the Minnesota Lynx got home-court advantage for the WNBA Finals. Thanks to the team's No. 1 overall draft pick, they may have a Maya Moore advantage for its road games, too.
Minnesota, in search of its first WNBA title, hosts Game 1 today and Game 2 Wednesday in a best-of-three series against the Atlanta Dream, then it faces Game 3 Friday at Philips Arena. In her previous trips to Atlanta with her college team at Connecticut and with the Lynx, Moore has played to a substantial group of her supporters.
The Collins Hill grad would love the same this week for Game 3, and Game 4 if necessary in Atlanta next Sunday.
"I hope so, I hope we have a good amount of Lynx fans there and people who have been fans of me and are now fans of the Lynx," Moore said. "Whether it's the finals or the NCAA Tournament or whatever, you have a group (of your fans) that travels. But I'm hoping to be able to get some more Lynx love while we're down there."
But before that trip becomes too big of a focus, Moore and her teammates have two games in Minnesota against a surging Atlanta Dream squad that is making its second straight finals appearance.
The Dream's star is small forward Angel McCoughtry, one of the league's most explosive offensive players, and Moore will get her share of minutes guarding the all-star. She'll get some help from Seimone Augustus, too.
"You have to make (McCoughtry) uncomfortable, try to not let her get her wheels going," Moore said the matchup. "You have to keep her off the foul line because she gets there quite a bit."
Moore, who lived up to her top draft pick hype by earning the WNBA Rookie of the Year award, also will play a big role on the offensive end.
The 6-footer led all rookies in scoring (13.2) this season, bouncing back from a slow start to play her best late in the season. She's upped all of her numbers in the playoffs, where she ranks second on the team in scoring (15.2) and rebounding (6.0). Moore and the Lynx beat the Dream in their only two meetings this season, 96-85 on June 17 and 77-64 two days later. She averaged 12.5 points, 5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2 steals in those games.
But individual numbers have never defined Moore as much as winning has. She won three state titles and a national title at Collins Hill, then picked up two NCAA titles during her four-year All-American career at UConn.
A WNBA title would add another prize to her already impressive legacy, which grew tremendously before she played a game in the WNBA when Nike signed her to the Jordan Brand. She's the first woman to represent Michael Jordan's signature line.
"I'm just taking all of this a little bit at a time," Moore said. "It's a huge blessing to have all the great opportunities I've had. To go to a great high school, to have great coaches along the way, even before I moved to Georgia. Each opportunity I've had, I've tried to make the most of it and I've tried to enjoy it."