Game 2 challenge for Lynx: Get Lindsay Whalen back on track

Fever win Game 1 (0:52)

Briann January has 19 points and six assists as the Fever steals home-court advantage in the WNBA Finals with a 75-69 victory over the Lynx. (0:52)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve challenged the notion that she challenged veteran guards Lindsay Whalen and Seimone Augustus after Sunday's 75-69 Game 1 loss to Indiana in the WNBA Finals.

"I don't necessarily know that I challenged them," Reeve said Monday. "I was asked, 'Do they need to do more?' and I confirmed what everybody sees, that they need to do more."

In the moments following Sunday's loss, Reeve indeed was questioned about the need to get more offensive production from her perimeter players.

Her response: "Both Lindsay and Seimone have to help us more offensively. They didn't get the job done, either of them, and we need more from them."

What separated Whalen and Augustus on Sunday night, at least in the box score, was opportunity.

Augustus took 11 shots, making three. Whalen was 1-for-3 and finished with four points, cementing a postseason trend for the veteran point guard in which her scoring production has dipped significantly compared to both the regular season and her other playoff experiences in Minnesota.

When Reeve said Sunday that "Lindsay hasn't found a way to help this team offensively in a long time," she surely was talking about a postseason in which Whalen's scoring has fallen off steeply.

Whalen averaged 10.9 points a game during the regular season -- a number that already ranked as her lowest scoring average since 2006, when she was a third-year player with Connecticut. But the 33-year-old saw her 2015 postseason scoring average drop to 6.2 points a game after Sunday.

By comparison, Whalen averaged 20.6 points per game for the Lynx in the 2014 postseason, which ended with a loss to Phoenix in the conference finals. Whalen's scoring averages in the Lynx's other three postseason runs to the WNBA Finals stack up like this: 12.0 PPG (2011), 13.4 (2012) and 9.7 (2013).

Whalen said Reeve's comments don't surprise her. The two have been together as player and coach since Whalen came home to Minnesota in 2011.

"We all know what we have to do," Whalen said ahead of Game 2, set for Tuesday (8 p.m. ET, ESPN2). "We've been in this a lot of years together and we know when it's going well and when it's not. ... It was one game and of course you want to win, but you take from it what the coaches want you to do and you learn from it."

Whalen missed the final five games of the regular season with an ankle injury, and it would be logical to think her explosiveness might be limited, keeping her from getting to the rim the way she has in the past.

But Reeve has another explanation. Officiating has played a part, the coach said.

"It's been a season-long thing for Whalen," Reeve said. "Early on, it seemed like an agenda that she wasn't going to be able to go to the basket how she's done her whole career and get calls when she's contacted illegally, and it's been a season-long struggle for her to overcome.

"She's changed her game because of it. ... She's had to adjust to a new style because it's kind of not the same when she goes in there. She is trying to find ways to help her team and do Whalen-like things and it's been a little bit harder for her."

Whalen called it something she can't control.

"At the same time, it's kind of the way it's gone, but I guess I need to do better," Whalen said. "The Finals are tough, and it's hard and you do what you have to do to be a better player."

Reeve also said she takes part of the blame, along with some offensive changes that came with the addition of 6-foot-6 center Sylvia Fowles in July. Fowles' presence has had the undeniable effect of pushing Minnesota to emphasize scoring inside. Fowles is averaging 11.5 points in the playoffs so far, underscoring the point that offensive opportunities have been diverted elsewhere.

"I have to help Lindsay do more," Reeve said. "It's a collective thing for us. It's not just Lindsay. It's all of us helping each other to put people in positions to be more successful. We aren't doing that for Lindsay.

"Part of Lindsay's problem is me. I have to put her in a better position to be successful and feeling better about things. We have both been there, done this, so we know exactly what's needed."

"Part of Lindsay's problem is me. I have to put her in a better position to be successful and feeling better about things. We have both been there, done this, so we know exactly what's needed." Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve

Whalen boiled it down to being better.

"Yeah, One of the points of emphasis we have as a team is moving the ball and sharing it and I'm in charge of that," Whalen said. "That being said, there are opportunities for me to look for offense and I need to try to do better."

Whalen said she will look to be aggressive in Game 2 and "be mindful of what we need," whether it be ball movement or more scoring.

"I need to let things come to me and kind of do what I've always done," Whalen said. "Game 1, they did a pretty good job of keeping us out of the lane and we have to be better, more determined to make it happen."

Whalen, Reeves said, just needs to get her "wheels rolling." In Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Sept. 27 in Phoenix, Whalen was struggling offensively before coming up with one of the biggest plays of the game, a driving reverse layup along the baseline to tie the game 69-69 with 1 minute, 15 seconds left. She finished the game with four points of 2-of-9 shooting.

"One of the reasons why we are back here is that we have an understanding that things aren't always going to go your way, but you have to keep fighting and plugging away," Whalen said. "You keep playing hard, you keep sticking to what you do, because you know a couple of plays can turn it around or get you going on the right path. Or, it can be part of winning a game or a series."