The Minnesota Lynx finished the season with a three game winning streak ending today with a 86-72 win over the Washington Mystics. They needed all three of those victories following their loss to the Los Angeles Sparks in order to clinch the best record in the WNBA and the top seed in the playoffs. With today’s win, the Lynx finish 27-7, one game ahead of the Sparks.
The Lynx were led today by Maya Moore (26 points) and Renee Montgomery (18), and shot 7-17 from beyond the arc. Those two offset a low scoring game from Sylvia Fowles (five points,) and the Lynx held the Mystics to 28 points in the second half.
Now the playoffs begin. For the Lynx, getting Lindsay Whalen back in the lineup is crucial for their championship hopes. She hasn’t played since injuring her hand last month, and the plan has been to have her back for the post-season. They will need her, as the team has struggled at times with her out. Renee Montgomery has played well, and especially over the last couple of games, but they need Whalen’s savvy to reduce the pressure on Montgomery. Hopefully she will be ready to go for the semifinals.
For those of you who don’t remember, the WNBA seeds the top eight teams regardless of conference. The third and fourth teams get byes to the second round, while the top two teams get double-byes into the semifinals. The first two rounds are single elimination games, and the matchups will look like this:
First Round (Wednesday, September 6th)
Seattle at Phoenix
Dallas at Washington
Worst 1st Round Winner at New York
Other 1st Round Winner at Connecticut
The winners of those games face Los Angeles and Minnesota in semifinal series that will be best of five, followed by a best of five Finals. Things are shaping up much as they did last season, when the Lynx and Sparks were the top two seeds, and met in the Finals with the Sparks winning a thrilling (if disappointing) game five at Target Center.
This year, the Lynx won’t be at Target Center as the building undergoes renovation, and will also not be able to play their home playoff games at their regular season home the Xcel Center in St. Paul, due to conflicts with the Wild among other things. Instead, they will play at Williams Arena on the University of Minnesota campus. No doubt the building will be loud, and probably filled to capacity as it doesn’t hold as many people as Target Center, but it will be a new environment for the squad. It will be interesting to see how that plays out.
Anyway, the Lynx once again will be seeking a championship, which would be their fourth in seven years. It’s been a magnificent stretch of basketball in the Twin Cities, and it would be fantastic to see them grab another title.