Lynx Clinch Home Court Throughout Playoffs
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The Minnesota Lynx took care of business once again on Friday night, recording their 12th win in 13 games in a 66-64 win over the Indiana Fever and capping off their second to last road trip of the regular season with a 2-1 record.
Lindsay Whalen's buzzer-beater with 1.6 seconds broke Minnesota's tie with Indiana and helped the Lynx win their 10th road game of the year. And because of their work on the road this week, the Lynx ensured they’ll spend the majority of their postseason run at home.
Minnesota locked up home court throughout the postseason on Friday, mathematically eliminating the Connecticut Sun from contention. Combined with Minnesota’s win over Indiana, improving its record to 25-5, the Sun fell to Los Angeles 93-82 and dropped their overall record to 22-9. With one week to play, the Lynx have ensured they’ll enjoy home cooking throughout, something they experienced a year ago during their 2012 WNBA championship run.
It’s an important stepping stone when trying to take home a title.
The Western Conference playoff picture is set, with Minnesota, Los Angeles, San Antonio and Seattle all securing spots in this year’s postseason. All three of those Western Conference teams have beaten the Lynx in their home arenas this year, while none of them have beaten Minnesota at Target Center. The Lynx hold a 15-1 record at home and have been dominant in front of their home fans, another important facet of their success.
“Winning your home games is absolutely of paramount importance to where we’re at in the season,” coach Cheryl Reeve said in late-August. “In order to put yourselves in best position to hold onto No. 1, winning home games has to happen.”
No question the Lynx are comfortable at home, having lost just once to the Connecticut Sun in early-July. The interesting part of Minnesota wrestling potential home court through the WNBA Finals away from the Sun is that should Connecticut come out of the Eastern Conference, it holds a better statistical record on the road. Connecticut is 12-4 away from home this year.
But that potential matchup is three playoff series away. For now, the Lynx have ensured if they’re able to make a deep playoff run and compete in a second straight WNBA Finals, they’ll be doing it mostly at home.
Considering they’re 33-5 at Target Center since the beginning of 2011, that’s a big deal.
Mama Taj eclipses 3,000
Lynx center Taj McWilliams-Franklin reached another milestone on Friday in Indiana. She pulled down five rebounds, and her third board of the night was the 3,000th of her 14-year WNBA career.
With 10 more points, which could come as early as Monday at home during Fan Appreciation Night presented by Best Buy, McWilliams-Franklin would become the second player in WNBA history with 5,000 points and 3,000 rebounds—joining only Lisa Leslie in that category.
The milestone rebound came at 6:24 of the first quarter.
This is the second major rebounding feat Mama Taj has reached this season. On Aug. 28 against San Antonio at Target Center, McWilliams-Franklin became the WNBA’s all-time leading rebounder. The total is still climbing, but right now of her 3,002 career boards 1,060 have come on the offensive end.
McWilliams-Franklin’s key to success on the glass has long been a combination of intelligence and hard work. Particularly on the offensive end, she studies how her teammates’ shots will carom off the rim if they don’t go in, and she simply makes sure she’s in that spot ready to snag the board when available.
She said there’s a big difference between her offensive and defensive rebounding abilities.
“If you look at my stats, I don’t get a lot of defensive rebounds,” McWilliams-Franklin said. “But on offense I just know every option in the offense, and that just comes with knowing coach Reeve and knowing the plays and watching video.”
No question she and forward Rebekkah Brunson factor into the rebounding game each night the Lynx take the court.
“She just works hard,” Brunson said. “She works hard on the court in practice and off the court she really takes care of her body and she takes care of her mind. She’s always focused. She’s just amazing.”
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