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WNBA Finals: Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream

The Lynx return to the Finals for the third straight year and face the team they defeated for the title in 2011. The Dream had an up and down season but have gotten hot in the playoffs.

Augustus vs. McCoughtry in the 2011 NBA Finals
Augustus vs. McCoughtry in the 2011 NBA Finals
Hannah Foslien

On paper, this looks like a mismatch.

The Lynx finished the season with the WNBA's best record (26-8), while the Dream scraped to .500 (17-17), including a four game losing streak to end the year.

The Lynx outscored their opponents by 9.4 ppg, the Dream by 1.5 ppg.

The Lynx, who have home court advantage in the best of five Finals, were 15-2 at home, while the Dream were 4-13 on the road.

The WNBA Finals open on Sunday night at 7:30 Central at Target Center (and on ESPN).  The Minnesota Lynx will try to apply their apparent advantages to win a second championship in three years, while the Dream, who return to the Finals for the third time in four seasons, want to avoid being only the second three time Finals loser in league history.

We know what the Lynx bring to the table: four All-Stars, insanely efficient offense led by Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus, and at times stifling defense. Their defense in the playoffs has been especially impressive, with no opponent managing more than the 65 points Phoenix scored in the close-out game of the Western Conference Finals. Through four games, the Lynx are holding opponents under 40% from the field.

Sidebar: Watch this woman shoot jump shots. Glorious:

The Dream are also here in large part on the back of their defense.  After a playoff opening loss to the Washington Mystics, the Dream have won four in a row, allowing more than their season average in points in only one of those games, and stifling the Indiana Fever by a score of 67-53 in the Eastern Conference Finals clincher, a game in which the Dream held the Fever to 28% shooting.

Inside, the Dream are led by the imposing post presence of Brazilian veteran Erika de Sousa, who leads the team in rebounding and blocked shots, while also contributing 13 ppg on the offensive side.  She is a force in the paint and one of the vital matchups for the Lynx will be their bigs against de Sousa.

The offensive star for the Dream is of course Angel McCoughtry.  One of the best scorers in the league, she hung 27 on the Fever in the clincher and can score against anyone.  She does it by getting into the paint and finishing, as well as by getting to the free throw line; she took over 7 FTAs a game this year while averaging 21.5 ppg.  The Lynx have multiple options to guard McCoughtry, and will likely start out with Seimone Augustus on her, creating a matchup of two of the great perimeter scorers in the history of women's basketball.

The series starts at 7:30 at Target Center.

Watch it. It's gonna be fun.

We'll post a game thread later in the day.