With their 87-68 win over the Los Angeles Sparks, the Minnesota Lynx clinched a spot in the playoffs.
It was easy to be excited on Saturday night. The Minnesota Lynx had a convincing win over the Los Angeles Sparks, and in the process, clinched the team's first playoff berth since 2004. The win was the team's 20th of the season, which is a regular season record for the Lynx.
Seimone Augustus, who will be making the first trip of her career to the playoffs, said after the game, "the people that's been here and went through those rough stages, we feel real good about it. It's just that weight. I feel lightheaded right now. I feel real light right now."
The 8,816 people who were at the game certainly felt excited. Even with only lower bowl seating, the Target Center was as loud as I've heard it in a long time, for a Lynx game or a Wolves game. And it was nice to be at a game against a Los Angeles basketball team without seeing the stands 1/2 full of Kobe Bryant jerseys.
Yet, with all of the excitement, it is clear that these Lynx see clinching a playoff berth as just another step this season. There is much more to be accomplished.
Coach Cheryl Reeve said at her post game press conference, "It's cool, it's great, we know our fans are excited but [clinching a playoff berth] isn't the goal. For us, It was a foregone conclusion that we were going to make the playoffs, and we have such bigger goals in mind."
In the team's 13 seasons as a WNBA franchise, the team has made the playoffs only twice - in 2003 and 2004 - and has only won a single playoff game. With 8 games left to play in their season, the Lynx are 4.5 games ahead of the Phoenix Mercury for the #1 seed in the Western Conference and are 1.5 games ahead of the Indiana Fever for the best overall record.
"We haven't done anything yet," Reeve continued. "We understand the excitement of making the playoffs, but each day is new for us, and each team that we play is in the way of what our ultimate goal is."
The players echoed their coach's sentiment.
"There's a lot of history to be made here," said Augustus. "We still got some work to do."
She scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting in a game that highlighted how balanced the Lynx are on offense. Seven players scored 7 or more points and only two players - Augustus with 17 and Wiggins with 13 - scored in double figures. Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Lindsay Whalen and even Taj McWilliams-Franklin can all score the ball, and when Wiggins is stretching the court - she went 4-of-7 from downtown against the Sparks - their offense is tough to contain.
If they can continue to get strong contributions off of the bench from Jessica Adair, Monica Wright and Wiggins, they will be able to reach the goals of winning the West, winning the #1 overall seed and winning the first playoff series in team history.
After that, who knows where this team might end up. Their next game is Tuesday night against the woeful Tulsa Shock (1-22). In their previous three games this season, the Lynx have won by an average margin of 23 points per game.