Series Preview: (1) Minnesota Lynx vs. (4) Seattle Storm

Sep 25 2012 9:17PM

By: Aman Ali, WNBA.com


The 2010 WNBA champions Seattle Storm will square off against the 2011 WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx in the Western Conference semifinals.
David Sherman/NBAE/Getty Images



Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Minnesota and Seattle?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Minnesota and Seattle?
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Game 1: Seattle at Minnesota
Fri Sept. 28, 9:00 ET, ESPN2
Game 2: Minnesota at Seattle
Sun Sept. 30, 9:00 ET, ESPN
Game 3*: Seattle at Minnesota
Tue Oct. 2, TBD, ESPN2
* if necessary
The Seattle Storm will take on the Minnesota Lynx in a series where Storm point guard Sue Bird will face off against her Olympic teammates Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen of the Lynx. The No. 1 seeded Lynx have clobbered the No. 4 Storm in three of their four matchups this season, winning by 13 points in two of those games and earning a 24-point victory in the other.

But it's hard to use the season series to accurately gauge how this postseason matchup will pan out because the Storm's roster hasn't played at full strength essentially the entire season. The Storm's superstar center Lauren Jackson missed 25 games this season to play with the Australian national team for the Olympics and then sustained a minor injury that briefly sidelined towards the end of the season. Bird missed a few games as well at the end of the season with an injury so it remains to be seen how strong both superstars will be when they face off against the Lynx. The Storm did finish the season strong by handling the Phoenix Mercury, 71-57, and will likely try to carry that tenacious momentum into this year's postseason, their ninth consecutive playoff appearance.

But the momentum advantage has to side with the Minnesota Lynx who have had the entire season to hone in on their already abundant team chemistry. The Lynx are the league's defending champions and are playing this season with intense hunger to rack up a repeat. When they win, they tend to win big, with most of their victories this season coming by double digits. They're also the only team in the league this season to have two double-digit winning streaks, starting the season with a franchise-best 10-0 record and then putting together another streak of 11 games in a row towards the end of the season.

This series will feature a showdown between arguably the top two point guards in the league this season as Whalen will be matched up against Bird. Whalen and Bird led the league in assists this season averaging 5.4 and 5.3 per game respectively. Bird has the scoring advantage over Whalen averaging 12.2 points per game to Whalen's 11.5. But Whalen's minor scoring disadvantage doesn't matter when she plays on the same team as Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore, two of the top scorers in the league at 16.6 and 16.4 points per game respectively. Throw in the fact that the Lynx's Rebekkah Brunson is one of the best rebounders in the league with 8.9 per game this season and you've got a Minnesota Lynx team that statistically is going to be hard to shut down.

But unpredictability is what the playoffs are all about. Sure the Lynx won the WNBA championship last year, but the Storm won the year before and many of the clutch players from that 2010 team are still playing for Seattle. Both teams also have built reputations for having some of the strongest fan bases in the league so all the hooting and hollering during the matchup may be the tipping point in determining who will come out on top this series. So, while the Lynx may be the better team on paper, it would be foolish to write off the Storm because anything can happen in the playoffs.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:

-- The Minnesota Lynx are the top scoring team in the league averaging 86 points per game. Seattle, on the other hand, is second to last averaging 71.2 points per game.

-- Lauren Jackson became the 4th player in WNBA history this season to rack up more than 6,000 career points. Two of the other players are her teammates in Katie Smith and Tina Thompson (who surpassed the 7,000 mark this season).





2012 Regular Season: Minnesota 3, Seattle 1

Sunday, May 27, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN: Storm 71, Lynx 84 | Box Score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Maya Moore (19 pts., 6 reb.), Rebekkah Brunson (9 pts., 7 reb..)
Seattle Leaders: Ann Wauters (13 pts., 9 reb.), Sue Bird (7 pts., 9 ast.)

Wednesday, June 6, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN: Storm 55, Lynx 79 | Box Score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Taj McWilliams-Franklin (17 pts., 4 reb.), Devereaux Peters (14 pts., 4 ast.)
Seattle Leaders: Tanisha Wright (14 pts., 3 stl.), Victoria Dunlap (7 pts., 5 reb.)

Friday, June 17, KeyArena, Seattle, WA: Lynx 62, Storm 65 | Box Score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Maya Moore (14 pts., 3 reb.), Rebekkah Brunson (7 pts., 11 reb.)
Seattle Leaders: Sue Bird (21 pts., 4 ast.), Tanisha Wright (12 pts., 8 ast.)

Tuesday, August 21, KeyArena, Seattle, WA: Lynx 86, Storm 73 | Box Score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Seimone Augustus (22 pts., 4 reb.), Rebekkah Brunson (20 pts., 14 reb.)
Seattle Leaders: Camille Little (20 pts., 5 reb.), Sue Bird (17 pts., 4 ast.)



See how the teams match up position by position

Lindsay Whalen, G, Lynx
11.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.4 APG
Sue Bird, G, Storm
12.2 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.3 APG
Seimone Augustus , G, Lynx
16.6 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.5 APG
Tanisha Wright, G, Storm
7.9 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 4.4 APG
Maya Moore, F, Lynx
16.4 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 3.6 APG
Camille Little, F, Storm
11.3 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 1.9 APG
Rebekkah Brunson, F, Lynx
11.4 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.2 APG
Ann Wauters, F, Storm
9.6 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 1.4 APG
Taj McWilliams-Franklin, C, Lynx
8.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 2.5 APG
Lauren Jackson, C, Storm
10.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 0.2 APG