It's do or die. They're in a must-win situation. They've battled back from the brink of elimination. There's no tomorrow.
Pick any sports cliche – they all apply – and buckle up for Tuesday night's deciding Game 3 of the WNBA Western Conference Finals between the Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury.
"It's a big game," Mercury star Diana Taurasi told the Arizona Republic. "Obviously, we lose, we stay home; they lose, they go home. So it'll be a heck of a game."
When the ball goes in the air at 9 p.m., Minnesota is hoping for a much better start than they had in the first two games of the series. Phoenix drubbed the Lynx in Game 1, leading by as many as 25 points, and the Lynx fell into a 22-9 first-quarter hole in Game 2 before storming back for the win.
“It would be nice,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said when asked about starting fast, according to the Star Tribune. “We’ve [had slow starts] in both first quarters in this series, but we’ve hung in there. We’ll see.’’
Another key for the Lynx will be getting great performances from their star players. Maya Moore, Lindsey Whalen and Seimone Augustus combined for 72 of Minnesota's 82 points in Game 2. Moore, the league's MVP, was held to nine points in Game One before exploding for 32 points in Game Two.
“She (Moore) had the mindset that she’s the best player in the league and nobody can stop her,” Reeve said, via WCCO. “I thought she said, ‘I’m a great player and I’m going to go play and have fun.’ That’s what I thought she did.”
Phoenix is the favorite tonight. They won a WNBA-record 29 games during the regular season and they've lost just once at home all season, and that was more than three months ago. But as Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson said, this series isn't about "X's and O's anymore."
"This will be a dogfight and we already know it," she said, according to the Pioneer Press.
By midnight tonight, the Western Conference will have a representative for the Finals. Augustus understands the truth behind a pair of cliches.
“Everything is on the table,” Augustus said. “It’s just a will to win, who wants it more.’’