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Minnesota Lynx (23-7) at Seattle Storm (15-15), 9 p.m. CST, KeyArena, Seattle
Where to Listen: BOB 106.1 FM
Where to watch: WNBA LiveAccess
It's an odd way to end the regular season, that's for sure.
Saturday's game will mark the first of two games in which the two teams will meet in a span of four days. Seattle's last game actually came on August 31 against the Lynx, so the Storm will have played three straight games against the No. 1 team in the West.
Perhaps the only good news is that they will have a full week off in-between the two games.
“[We need to] go win a game in Seattle. We’re in playoff mode," said Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve after Wednesday's win over LA. "We want to win games. You guys are going to talk to them about standings watching and all that kind of stuff. I told them not to listen to you guys, that all we did was win a home game. Put ourselves in position to get a tiebreak when we go to L.A. That game could be very meaningful."
The Lynx have four games remaining, two against the Storm, one against the Los Angeles Sparks (21-10) and one against the East-leading Chicago Sky (21-8).
The Lynx lead the Sparks by 2.5 games for the No. 1 seed the West.
"If you don’t turn it up now, I don’t know when you are going to turn it up," said Lynx shooting guard Seimone Augustus. "We have all been here, we have all experienced the playoffs except for the few rookies we have. I’m going to do what I have to, to make sure we get back in position of winning the championship.”
Seattle is in battle-mode as well. They trail the Phoenix Mercury (15-13) by one game for the No. 3 seed in the West. The difference between the first and second seed is playing the Lynx or the Sparks.
Pick your poison.
Last time out
Minnesota is coming off of an 83-74 win over the Los Angeles Sparks at the Target Center on Wednesday. Augustus led the way with 23 points, while adding five rebounds and four assists. Small forward Maya Moore continued her hot streak, finishing with 20 points and six rebounds while shooting 6-of-11 from the field.
Power forward Rebekkah Brunson had the game's only double-double, finishing with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Two former Golden Gophers were at their best. Center Janel McCarville scored 12 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists, while Lindsay Whalen finished with nine points and a career-high 14 assists.
The Lynx announced on Friday that they have signed Whalen to a multi-year extension.
"We are extremely excited to have extended the contract of a franchise cornerstone and one of the best players in the WNBA,” said Lynx Executive Vice President Roger Griffith. “Lindsay has become the top point guard in the league over the past several seasons and we are glad to have her playing in her home state of Minnesota."
Seattle's last game came back on August 31 when the Storm traveled to face the Lynx at the Target Center. Minnesota came on top 97-74 thanks to 30 points from Moore. Moore was 12-of-15 from field and 4-of-5 from the 3-point line. She also added five rebounds.
Augustus added 16 points, while Whalen added 12 points and five assists.
The bench had a strong game, as rookie forward Rachel Jarry led the way with 14 points and WNBA Sixth Woman of the Year candidate Monica Wright finished with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.
Minnesota shot 57.9 percent from the field and forced 14 Seattle turnovers while committing just seven.
The ageless wonder Tina Thompson, in her last regular season game at the Target Center, finished with 18 points. Point guard Tameka Johnson added 16, while Tanisha Wright had the game's only double-double, finishing with 11 points and 10 assists.
Minnesota is 2-0 against Seattle this season.
Key matchup: Whalen vs. Johnson
Whalen is arguably having the best season of her career, averaging 14.7 points, six assists and 4.2 rebounds per game. She sets the tone for everything the Lynx do offensively, so of course she's a crucial part of the team's final regular season stretch.
In her two previous games against Seattle, Whalen is averaging 17 points, six assists, and four rebounds.
Johnson, in her first season with Seattle, has been a steady player for Seattle. She's averaging 10.6 points per game to go along with 4.1 assists.
Nothing about Johnson's game will blow you away, but she is a very consistent point guard and has been since coming into the league in 2005. In two games against Minnesota, Johnson is averaging 11 points, three assists and one rebound.
Whalen is expected to win this matchup, but if Johnson can throw Whalen's game off early and gain early momentum, it could get things going in the right direction for Seattle.
Minnesota appears to be at full strength.
Seattle will be without center Ann Wauters (personal), forward Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and guard Sue Bird (knee) for the remainder of the season.
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