Silver Stars-Lynx Preview
Now, they know they'll need to keep up their intensity when they open the conference semifinals Friday night against San Antonio - a team the Lynx went 4-0 against during the season.
"So far we are right on track to do what we set out to do in the beginning of the season," rookie Maya Moore said. "Every time we step out on the court, we're working for a championship, we're working to win."
Minnesota (27-7) started out with three losses in its first eight games, then had just four more the rest of the way. The Western Conference champions finished nine wins better than their previous franchise-best and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004 - and the third time overall.
However, the Lynx also aren't getting ahead of themselves, and know they need to beat the Silver Stars (18-16) in the next step toward their goal. They swept San Antonio, but two wins came on last-second shots.
"We'll take it one game at a time," veteran point guard Lindsay Whalen said. "We're just focused on San Antonio this weekend. We had a great regular season and that's over now. So on to the playoffs. We'll have the same pressure as everyone to win and stay alive."
Whalen set career highs in points (13.6), assists (5.9), field goal percentage (51.1) and 3-point shooting (40.5) to emerge as an MVP candidate.
"It's just fun to watch," coach Cheryl Reeve said. "She's strong, she's physically tough, she's mentally tough and she just makes our team go. How she goes is how we go."
San Antonio won seven of eight to start the season, and then five of six to end it. In between, the Silver Stars struggled and went through a stretch in which they lost 10 of 12. Danielle Adams was the rookie of the month for June before missing some time with a foot injury.
With everyone healthy now, San Antonio is hoping to build off its finish. Coach Dan Hughes acknowledged the tough task facing his team against the league-best Lynx.
"They're a solid team in every statistical way. Cheryl has them executing well across the board," Hughes said. "Where I think the separation has been is their rebounding advantage with us and a lot of teams."
Becky Hammon will match up with Whalen, and the seven-time All-Star is coming off another strong season. Hammon led the Silver Stars with an average of 15.9 points, and her 5.8 assists per game were second in the league behind Whalen.
Hammon struggled offensively against San Antonio this year, shooting 26.2 percent - her worst versus any opponent - while averaging 9.8 points.
"Everybody's excited for what lies ahead," Hammon said. "Everything is amped up now that you're in the playoffs. Nothing else matters. All that matters for us is the game on Friday."
Game 2 is scheduled for Sunday in San Antonio.
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