The Minnesota Lynx became the first WNBA team to clinch a playoff spot and have shifted their focus to securing home-court advantage throughout the postseason.
The Atlanta Dream are just trying to get out of the Eastern Conference basement.
Minnesota seeks a third straight victory when it visits the Dream on Friday night.
Maya Moore has returned to her high-scoring ways after falling one shy of matching Diana Taurasi’s league-record 12-game streak of at least 20 points. Moore totaled 30 in two games after the streak, but had 20 points in Sunday’s 72-64 win over Los Angeles and tied her season high with 32 in Tuesday’s 83-76 victory over San Antonio, which secured a playoff berth for the Lynx (17-6).
Minnesota leads the Mercury by two games atop the West.
"Right now, this is that point in the season where everybody is vying for a playoff spot," coach Cheryl Reeve told the team’s official website. "It took a lot for us to get out of here with a W."
Lindsay Whalen had nine assists to become the third player in league history with at least 2,000.
"It’s a team award with that type of a stat, so it’s definitely cool to be a part of that group and have 2,000," Whalen said. "It means I’ve played with a lot of great players and made some plays along the way."
Minnesota has won two WNBA titles since Whalen joined the club in 2010, beating the Dream with three-game sweeps in the finals in 2011 and ’13. The Lynx have won five of the last six meetings beginning with the latter series, including an 86-70 win July 31.
Moore had 21 points and 10 rebounds in that contest. Damiris Dantas scored nine points against her former team after she was dealt to the Dream in a three-team trade with Chicago that sent Sylvia Fowles to the Lynx on July 27.
Dantas scored a career-high 18 points Sunday as Atlanta (8-14) ended a six-game losing streak with a 98-90 win over Tulsa, its highest-scoring game of the season. It is five games behind Indiana, Chicago and Washington, which are tied in the battle for the East’s final three playoff spots.
Angel McCoughtry had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Dream, who have played eight of nine on the road. They’ve also been playing with a thin frontcourt, having traded Erika de Souza in the Dantas deal and dealing with the absence of Sancho Lyttle, who has missed the last 10 with a foot injury.
The Dream will play their next two at home, where they’ve won three of four. Minnesota is beginning a stretch of five of six on the road.