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Postseason Push: No More Missing Lynx


July 28 -- Welcome back to the Playoff Push. Hopefully, all of you had a good weekend. The Lynx and the Comets sure did. As for the Liberty and Candi Harvey, not so much.

Let's accentuate the positives first, shall we.

NO MORE MISSING LYNX

Can Katie Smith point the Lynx toward the playoffs?
David Sherman
WNBAE/Getty Images
Since Minnesota's inaugural season in 1999, the WNBA's playoffs have been noticeably Lynx-free.

As a matter of fact, of the league's 14 franchises, the Lynx are the only team never to have made the playoffs. But after two stellar games this weekend, it looks as if the Lynx's thirst for the postseason may be slaked.

On Friday, the Lynx clobbered the Silver Stars by 27 at home. The next night, the Lynx went to Indiana, where the Fever had lost only one game all season. After 40 minutes, thanks to Katie Smith's 21 points and Sheri Sam's 20, Minnesota made it two losses after topping Indiana 70-65.

While -- Shhhh! -- no one is talking about the Lynx's chances to make the postseason, teams have noticed Minnesota is more active on defense. (Minneapolis Star Tribune)

Another secret to the Lynx's success is -- All-Star Katie Smith and her new-found accuracy. While the 5-11 forward could always score -- she holds the single-season scoring average record at 23.1 points per game in 2001 -- Smith was never efficient, as she shot 40.3 percent from the field for her WNBA career.

This season, Smith is shooting 50.3 percent from the field overall and 44.7 percent from three-point range, both career highs.

These are heady days for the Lynx. Since a loss to Cleveland on July 5 that dropped them to 7-8, the Lynx have gone 6-2 to improve to 13-10, the first time they've been three games above .500 this late in the season since July 7, 2000.

If the Season Ended Today ...
... here's what the first round playoff matchups would look like:

Eastern Conference:
Detroit (1) vs. Connecticut (4)
Charlotte (2) vs. Indiana (3)

Western Conference:
Los Angeles (1) vs. Seattle (4)
Houston (2) vs. Minnesota (3)

The East is still tight. The New York Liberty are in sixth place, but still only 2½ games out of second place:

2. Charlotte (13-10, .565)
3. Indiana (12-10, .545)
4. Connecticut (13-11, .542)
5. Cleveland (11-12, .478)
6. New York (9-11, .450)

Now, in a third place tie in the West with Seattle and with a 1½ game lead over the Monarchs for the conference's final playoff position, the Lynx have a tough road ahead as they pack their bags for seven of their final 11 games. That, and the Monarchs have won four of the last five games to keep Minnesota in their sights in the West.

COMETS GET OFFENSIVE

The West is tough. With their 61-53 win over the Liberty at home on Saturday, the Comets had won their third consecutive game and their seventh in the last eight games.

In that three-game streak, do you know how many games the Comets have gained on the first-place Sparks since the All-Star break when they were 4½ back? One-half game. Told you it was tough.

Yet, the four-time WNBA Champion Comets are undeterred and undaunted, even in the face of having to learn a new offense in the second half of the season. (Houston Chronicle)

The new offense sputtered in the first half the Comets' game against the Liberty. But in the second half, they mixed in some of their older plays and lo and behold, the offense started to go.

"There's not really any set plays," All-Star Tina Thompson said of the new hybrid offense, "but it's more taking advantage of what the defense is giving us and taking full advantage of our athleticism."

Houston gets another chance to test out the new offense on Tuesday against the Lynx.

LIBERTY STARTS AT HOME

Everyone loves the comforts of home, but the Liberty have taken that statement to heart. Maybe too much so.

The Liberty, after losing to the Comets on Saturday, are 1-8 away from Madison Square Garden, the third worst road record in the WNBA and by far the worst of any team contending for a playoff spot.

Three to See:
Can't get enough of the race to make the postseason? Here are some must-see upcoming games:

Tuesday, July 29: Minnesota at Houston ...
Lynx get another test on the road (8 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, July 29: Detroit at Cleveland ...
The Shock try to tighten their grip on the East (10 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, July 30: San Antonio at L.A. ...
The Sparks play for the first time in a week (3:30 p.m. ET)

The loss, New York's third consecutive defeat overall and seventh straight on the road, was costly. The Liberty fell two games behind the Sun for the East's final playoff spot. And it doesn't get any easier for the Liberty as eight of their final 13 games are away from home.

SILVER STARS MAKE A CHANGE

First, they changed cities. Now, they've changed coaches.

One day after a 27-point loss at the hands of the Lynx, the San Antonio Silver Stars dismissed coach Candi Harvey and top assistant Tammi Reiss on Saturday. The loss dropped the Silver Stars to 6-16, which is not the way to make a first impression in a new city.

"We knew there would be some changes, but we thought it would come after the season," Marie Ferdinand told the San Antonio Express-News. "To see it happen so soon, that was the biggest shocker, that it happened right now."

Interim coach Shell Dailey made it look easy in her debut. The Silver Stars topped the Rockers 64-55 in San Antonio on Sunday. (Cleveland Plain-Dealer)

"It felt good," said Dailey. "You should see the joy and excitement those young ladies are feeling. I'm so proud of them."

More »

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