MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Lynx had a basketball clinic with kids on Monday at Target Center, which was exactly what her team needed, according to guard Maya Moore.
That might seem a bit odd, considering the Lynx were coming off a 75-69 loss to Indiana in Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday. One might think they would have been too tense to have much patience for the youngsters. However, knowing the personality of the Lynx, it makes more sense that they seemed to enjoy it so much.
Sure, it's a very serious time for a team hoping to win its third WNBA title in five years. The Lynx have home-court advantage in the best-of-five series but now know they'll have to win at least once in Indiana this weekend to get the championship. Of course, before that, they really need to even the series in Game 2 on Tuesday (ESPN2, 8 ET).
But hanging out with the kids and remembering the fun part of basketball was therapeutic for Moore and her teammates. Nothing is really going to make their pursuit less stressful, because that is the nature of the playoffs. But overstressing about it won't help, either.
"This was right on time, this clinic, because it really does help us remember the joy that it is to play and how much of a privilege it is," Moore said. "Just having fun, listening to your coach and then going out and doing it with all your might. Everything you've done up to this point to prepare is enough. That's what we have to believe and trust in."
Moore said she relishes working with all kinds of kids -- from the most confident and energetic ones, who remind her of herself at a young age, to the more uncertain ones who need encouragement. She also notices the chemistry among kids when they're put on teams, as she's a constant observer of any environment she's in.
"I'm very aware of dynamics and the energy between people working together," Moore said. "It's cool to see the different personalities do that."
That translates all the way up to the professional ranks. These WNBA Finals are a showcase for how even when a team is at what's considered the "all-business" level, the need for good chemistry is still crucial.
And it's not surprising that, looking back on the history of WNBA champions, most -- not all, admittedly, but most -- have a recognizably positive team dynamic. That's definitely the case with both Minnesota and Indiana.
"I totally agree that the two teams that I feel like have the best chemistry are in the Finals right now," Moore said. "Because at this point in the year, your chemistry is going to be exposed. Especially in the Finals. Because everything comes down to the smallest things going well and being connected as a unit. Playing a team sport, that's essential to your success.
"It's complicated as far as how that happens. You have to have leadership that exemplifies that chemistry, work ethic, selflessness. Not caring who gets the credit. It's a culture that doesn't just happen, it takes intentionality from everybody."
Moore -- even going back to her success at UConn -- has never seemed comfortable with suggestions that she "takes over" games or "carries" her teams. Moore doesn't see it that way; she views everything she does as part of the Lynx's collective effort.
"Your chemistry is going to be exposed. Especially in the Finals. Because everything comes down to the smallest things going well and being connected as a unit. Playing a team sport, that's essential to your success." Maya Moore
Moore had 27 points and 12 rebounds in Sunday's game; she and Sylvia Fowles (21, 11) were the only Lynx players who scored in double figures. But Moore wasn't talking Monday about who else needed to contribute more. Rather, she said it was a matter of the whole Lynx team remembering what got them this far as the Western Conference champs.
"That's the beauty of it -- we don't have to come out and do something over and above what we're capable of to win," Moore said. "If we do what we can do and be ourselves, we give ourselves a chance to win every game we play. It's not about mustering up something that we've never done before."
At the same time, though, Moore knows that the Tamika Catchings-led Fever have a very similar mindset in approaching the WNBA Finals, which is what makes this an intriguing matchup for both sides. In terms of how they respect one another and work together, the Lynx and Fever are very much alike.
"You know they're not going to hurt themselves," Moore said of the Fever. "Teams that have some weaknesses chemistrywise have the potential to do that. That's why every possession is so critical, and you have to be on it. Because teams like that are going to capitalize on your mistakes, the way we're going to try to capitalize on their mistakes.
"They're a very confident bunch that have that confidence at every position. It's a great challenge, and that's exactly how it should be."