With their 85-70 win over the Phoenix Mercury, the Seattle Storm clinched second place in the Western Conference and home court advantage in the first round of the 2011 WNBA Playoffs.
And with that, the Western Conference playoff schedule is set.
The schedule is available at WNBA.com (click here). Below are the scores of the relevant regular season meetings for each series (with links to the stats via Lynx Data, with efficiency, Four Factors, plus/minus, and miscellaneous stats).
Minnesota Lynx (1) vs. San Antonio Silver Stars (4)
Regular season series: 4-0 Lynx
First game: Friday, September 16 at 8 p.m. CST (NBA TV) in Minnesota
|July 31||San Antonio||70-69 Lynx||Adams injured|
|August 4||Minnesota||62-60 Lynx||Adams injured|
|August 26||Minnesota||85-75 Lynx||Adams' first game back|
|August 28||San Antonio||72-61 Lynx|
Seattle Storm (2) vs. Phoenix Mercury (3)
Regular season series: 3-1 Storm
First game: Thursday, September 15 at 7 p.m. (ESPN2) in Seattle
|June 4||Seattle||78-71 Storm||Regular season opener|
|July 26||Phoenix||83-77 Storm||Lauren Jackson out|
|August 16||Phoenix||81-79 Mercury||Jackson, Tanisha Wright out
First meeting post-Kara Braxton trade
|September 9||Seattle||85-70 Storm (box)||Penny Taylor out|
In both situations, you could argue that the regular season games could actually be disregarded:
- Adams was out for the first two games against the Lynx and the Silver Stars were close. Adams' first game back was in Minnesota. What could the Silver Stars do at full strength over three games?
- On the other hand, those close games were earlier in the season. Is it possible that the Lynx are just better now explaining the larger margins later?
- The Mercury have a similar caveat working in their favor: the first two games were before trading Kara Braxton. Last night's game was without Penny Taylor. Would Taylor have made up a 15 point difference last night?
- But of course, with last night's win, the Storm have now beaten the Mercury on 10 of the last 11 meetings between the two teams dating back to about this time in 2009. That one Storm loss was a) in Phoenix and b) without two starters. The Mercury still haven't won in KeyArena since 2009. The Storm just seem to have the Mercury's number. So with home court advantage at full health, are the Storm almost assured of advancing to the Western Conference Finals?
So a few questions for you all: Which lower seed has the best chance of "stealing" a win on the road? Can either lower seed advance?
Feel free to drop your insights and links in the comments.
For more on the Western Conference Playoff race, visit SBN Seattle's storystream.