Series Preview: (1) Minnesota Lynx vs. (4) San Antonio Silver Stars

Sep 14 2011 4:15PM

Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Minnesota and San Antonio?
Which team will win the Conference Semifinal matchup between Minnesota and San Antonio?
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Game 1: San Antonio at Minnesota
Fri Sept. 16, 9 ET, NBA TV
Game 2: Minnesota at San Antonio
Sun Sept. 18, 5:00 ET, ESPN2
Game 3*: San Antonio at Minnesota
Tue Sept. 20, TBD, TBD
* if necessary
The Minnesota Lynx finished the regular season with the top record in the WNBA, with a team-record 27 wins in 34 games. Four of those wins came against the San Antonio Silver Stars, their opponent in the opening round of the 2011 WNBA Playoffs, as the Lynx swept the season series.

Sounds like a mismatch when you look at it that way, doesn't it? But keep in mind that the Lynx�s first two wins in the series came by way of last-second shots � one by Lindsay Whalen with 1.5 seconds left in a 70-69 win on July 31 in San Antonio, and the other by Taj McWilliams-Franklin with 1.3 seconds left in a 62-60 win just four days later, on Aug. 4 in Minnesota.

Minnesota�s final two wins came in back-to-back games in late August, while the Silver Stars were mired in a season-long six-game losing streak that had them in danger of falling out of the Playoffs.

However, following the final loss to the Lynx on Aug. 28, the Silver Stars righted the ship and closed the season by winning four of their last five games.

This series features a number of intriguing matchups, perhaps none more important than the point guard showdown between Minnesota�s Whalen and San Antonio�s Becky Hammon. Both veteran point guards have been instrumental to their team�s success throughout the season.

Whalen is having a career year statistically (13.6 points per game, career-high 5.9 assists per game), while running the greatest show on court in the WNBA this year. She is surrounded by a plethora of talented players, including team scoring leader Seimone Augustus (16.2 ppg) in the backcourt, rookie phenom Maya Moore and rebounding machine Rebekkah Brunson, along with the trusted veteran McWilliams-Franklin in the middle.

Hammon is relied upon to score more than Whalen is, but can also distribute the rock as she finds teammates like forward Sophia Young, guard Jia Perkins and rookie forward Danielle Adams -- whose return to the lineup from injury corresponded with the Silver Stars� late-season resurgence.

The injury to Adams hurt what appeared to be a tight season-long race for Rookie of the Year honors between Moore and Adams. It was Adams who was named the league�s top rookie during the first month of the season while both players were healthy. While Moore took the honor for the final two months and is considered by many as the frontrunner to win the award, it would have been great to them compete for the top spot all summer long. But seeing them square off in the postseason should be special.

Some fast facts about the first-round matchup:
  • The Lynx were the third-highest scoring team in the WNBA this season (81.5 ppg) while the Silver Stars were sixth (77.64).
  • The Lynx also boasted a great defense this year, allowing just 73.1 points a game to finish second in the league. The Silver Stars were not too far behind, allowing 75.52 to finish fifth.
  • After injuries had plagued the Lynx for the past two seasons, their core group stayed healthy for the entire season. They featured the same starting lineup in 33 out of 34 games.
  • The Lynx hold home-court advantage in this series after losing at home just three times all season, good for the third-best home record in the league, behind Seattle and Connecticut (each 15-2). However, the Lynx were the best road team in the league, finishing 13-4 away from home, one of only three teams to finish above .500 on the road (the others were San Antonio and Atlanta at 9-8 each).
  • The Silver Stars opened the season as one of the hottest teams in the league, finishing the month of June with a league-best 7-1 record.
  • San Antonio�s Becky Hammon, who signed a contract extension with the Stars on Saturday, became the seventh player in league history to score 5,000 points earlier this season.

2011 Regular Season: Minnesota 4, San Antonio 0

Sunday, July 31, AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX: Lynx 70, Silver Stars 69 | Box score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Lindsay Whalen (23 pts., 7 reb.), Seimone Augustus (16 pts., 4 ast.)
San Antonio Leaders: Jia Perkins (18 pts., 3 ast.), Becky Hammon (15 pts., 6 ast.)

Thursday, August 4, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN: Silver Stars 60, Lynx 62 | Box score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Taj McWilliams-Franklin (18 pts., 7 reb.), Candice Wiggins (15 pts., 2 reb.)
San Antonio Leaders: Sophia Young (18 pts., 13 reb.), Becky Hammon (15 pts., 4 ast.)

Friday, August 26, Target Center, Minneapolis, MN: Silver Stars 75, Lynx 85 | Box score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Seimone Augustus (19 pts., 5 reb.), Maya Moore (18 pts., 7 ast.)
San Antonio Leaders: Danielle Robinson (11 pts., 2 ast.), Sophia Young (10 pts., 6 reb.)

Sunday, August 28, AT&T Center, San Antonio, TX: Lynx 72, Silver Stars 61 | Box score | Highlights
Minnesota Leaders: Seimone Augustus (20 pts., 5 reb.), Maya Moore (19 pts., 12 reb.)
San Antonio Leaders: Roneeka Hodges (12 pts., 4 reb.), Jia Perkins (10 pts., 2 reb.)

See how the teams match up position by position

Lindsay Whalen, G, Lynx
13.6 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 5.9 APG
Note: Led league in assists (5.9)
Becky Hammon, G, Silver Stars
15.9 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 5.8 APG
Note: Edged for league-lead in assists (5.8)
Seimone Augustus , G-F, Lynx
16.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 2.2 APG
Note: 8th in the league in scoring
Jia Perkins, G, Silver Stars
12.0 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.4 APG
Note: Father played professional football for the NY Giants
Maya Moore, F, Lynx
13.2 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 2.6 APG
Note: Led all rookies in scoring and minutes and second in rebounds
Danielle Robinson, G-F, Silver Stars
8.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 3.9 APG
Note: Scored career-high 36 pts on Sept 11, 2011
Rebekkah Brunson, F, Lynx
10.2 PPG, 8.9 RPG, 1.2 APG
Note: Pulled down 48 rebounds in four games vs. Silver Stars
Sophia Young, F, Silver Stars
13.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 2.3 APG
Note: Fastest player in franchise history to score 2,000 points, doing so in only 125 games
Taj McWilliams-Franklin, C, Lynx
8.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 2.4 APG
Note: Second most prolific rebounder in WNBA history
Ruth Riley, C, Silver Stars
5.6 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 1.2 APG
Note: One of just seven players in the WNBA to win a WNBA Championship, NCAA Championship and an Olympic Gold Medal

Western Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals

Eastern Conference

Conference Finals

Conference Semi Finals