Minneapolis, MN— To WNBA faithful, the rivalry between Phoenix and Minnesota is a familiar one.
In each of the last three seasons, either the Mercury or the Lynx has been crowned league champions when all is said and done.
And when you consider the fact, that each team has two of the greatest ever to play the game in Maya Moore and Diana Taurasi.
Well, folks, that’s one for the storybooks.
But as far as Wednesday night was concerned? The Lynx were the ones who stepped out on the court and LOOKED like champions.
“We’re just so confident in our preparation. This team is very experienced. I think [we] have a great understanding of what we have. We want to make sure that every time we’re on the court, we’re giving everything that we have,” Moore said.
It was almost as if their coronation in the coming weeks is inevitable. Hitting clutch shots, playing team basketball, and a key performance by a league superstar when her team needed her the most are all part of the formula that led the Lynx to 28-6 franchise best regular season record.
Stellar defense, combined with a fluid offense makes for some fun basketball. It’s clear that no one knows the stakes better than the defending champion Lynx.
And yet, despite coming away with the win, the Lynx can admit when their defense isn’t necessarily so stellar. But that self-awareness is critical to their success, and head coach Cheryl Reeve knows that.
“Neither coach was really happy with the defensive effort. No question that we’ll both be hard at work improving that for the second 40 minutes that we play.
“I was obviously pleased with our offense and I think it was the overall approach.”
And as Minnesota finished as the victors, 113-95, they proved attention to detail and toughness are the vehicles to WNBA post-season success.
While the eight-seeded Mercury have played well up until this point despite nearly missing the cutoff for a playoff spot, they did not have the defense to stop the Lynx, or Moore in particular.
Taurasi went off in the first quarter for Phoenix, hitting three three-pointers and scoring 11 points that would keep them within one of the Lynx.
In the second quarter, however, the Lynx proved why they are the #1 seed, and Moore proved she could match Taurasi’s first quarter performance. Moore scored 13 points, mainly helped by Lindsay Whalen’s ability to find gaps in the Phoenix defense.
And even though her team would remain down by 19, Taurasi would have 25 points by the end of the third to help combat the Lynx balanced attack. However, Minnesota refused to let go and finished with a new record high for playoff points in WNBA history.
Based on Wednesday night alone, it’s no wonder that Minnesota is the favorite to win it all and defend their title.
But in a best of five series, who knows what will happen.