By Philip Rossman-Reich
Scouting Report - Lynx (11-10) vs. Silver Stars (9-11) 5 PM
WHERE TO WATCH: WNBA LIVE ACCESS
WHERE TO LISTEN: BOB 106 FM
It is clear for the rest of the season that it will be a three-team race for the final two spots between the Lynx and last year's Western Conference finalists. The Silver Stars and Sparks both have 11 losses entering the weekend with many more games to play. No game may be as important for Minnesota as Sunday afternoon's battle with San Antonio.
The Lynx and Silver Stars split a home-and-home series in July, with the road team winning each game. The two teams play each other one more time after Sunday's game and the winner could take a very important 2-1 series lead, ensuring at least a tie in the season series should the team's be tied at the end of the season. With that final game in San Antonio, Minnesota should be looking to make sure it defends its home court against the team directly behind the team in the standings.
The Silver Stars are a model of inconsistency. The team has not had a winning or losing streak of more than two games and seems to always find a way back to .500. That is not a good sign for Minnesota since San Antonio lost its last game to Atlanta 92-84. The Dream got big games from Iziane Marques-Castro and Chamique Holdsclaw to offset a 26-point outburst from Becky Hammon and 23 points from Sophia Young. Atlanta outrebounded San Antonio 43-34, including a 17-12 edge on the offensive glass, and shot 48.8 percent for the game. Even with Hammon and Young playing well a team that can rebound and score can offset the high scoring production from the two.
Hammon averages 21.2 points and 4.6 assists per game while Young scores 17.6 points with 7.0 rebounds per contest. Those two are pretty constant for the defending Western Conference champions. But the Lynx know the Silver Stars can score in bunches. That home and home series in July between Minnesota and San Antonio shows how fickle the team can be. In the first game, played at the Target Center, Hammon and Young combined for 40 of the Silver Stars' 77 points. But Ruth Riley came in and had a big game with 19 points and nine rebounds to give San Antonio an edge in the post.
But in the second game, played at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, the Lynx gave up 44 points to Hammon and Young, but only one other player scored in double figures and four other players scored at all. It helped that Charde Houston scored a career-high 26 points to lead Minnesota to the 83-76 win.
Hammon and Young are two of the top players in the league. Stopping them is going to be next to impossible. But if the Lynx can find a way to get a balanced attack to counter the Silver Stars' two stars and wait for their shots on offense, a big win could be in their future.
Keys To A Win For Minnesota:
--Win the battle of the boards
--Make San Antonio a two-girl show
--Keep an upbeat tempo
--Be patient for openings offensively
Matchup To Watch:
Charde Houston vs. Ruth Riley
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