The Minnesota Lynx begin their quest to repeat as WNBA champions after a regular season during which they won a franchise-record 28 games. There's good reason to think they could become the first repeat champions since 2001-02. Here are five reasons Minnesota why.
Stacy Bengs/Associated PressStacy Bengs
The Lynx have a stifling defense that cleans up on the glass
Minnesota held opponents to the second-lowest shooting percentage on the season (41.7 percent), while yielding the second-fewest points per game (77) and fewest rebounds per game (30.7). The team outrebounded opponents by about 5.1 per game, its largest rebounding margin since 2012. In addition, Minnesota forced the third-most turnovers per game (15.1) and yielded the fewest opponent assists per game (15.3).
Minnesota possesses arguably the most efficient offense in the WNBA
The team had the second-highest field-goal percentage (47.1), per-game scoring average (85.8) and second-most assists per game (20). The Lynx averaged the third-fewest turnovers per game (13.5) and had the league's highest offensive rating (107.2).
NBAE/Getty ImagesAdam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Ima
As the top seed in the playoffs, Minnesota will have home-court advantage in both the semifinals and, presuming it gets that far, the finals. The Lynx were 15-2 at the Target Center this year -- the best home winning percentage in the WNBA. The lone two losses were to the Liberty, which is out of the playoffs, and the Sparks. However, Minnesota was 2-0 at Los Angeles. The Lynx will play the first two games of the playoffs at the Xcel Energy Center, but Phoenix, the Lynx's semifinals opponent, was just 5-12 on the road this season.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJordan Johnson/NBAE via Getty Im
They know how to win:
Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson all played on Minnesota's 2011, 2013 and 2015 championship squads and all had strong seasons this year. Add to that Sylvia Fowles, who was last year's WNBA Finals MVP and this year's Defensive Player of the Year, and Minnesota has no shortage of players who know how to win in big games.
NBAE/Getty ImagesJuan Ocampo
The Lynx are a deeper team than last year's championship squad:
Minnesota basically had a rotation of seven players in the playoffs last season, with Moore, Augustus, Fowles, Whalen, Brunson and Anna Cruz all playing 20+ minutes per game. The Lynx are expected to get additional contributions from Renee Montgomery (19.3 minutes, 7.5 points per game), Jia Perkins (20.7 mpg, 6.4 ppg), Natasha Howard (14.6 mpg, 6.7 ppg) and Janel McCarville (12.6 mpg), who sat out last year but was on the 2013 title team. Oh, and Cruz is back after rejoining Minnesota following the Olympics. This is one deep team.