Taurasi, Mercury look to turn up heat vs. Lynx
The defending champion Minnesota Lynx will face the Phoenix Mercury in a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals on Wednesday in the opener of a best-of-five semifinal series at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Minnesota and Phoenix are meeting with a trip to the WNBA Finals on the line for the fourth year in a row and the fifth time in six years. The Lynx swept the Mercury last season under the old playoff format and went on to defeat the Indiana Fever in five games to win their third WNBA championship in five years.
Minnesota went 28-6 during the regular season to win the Western Conference with the best record in the WNBA. Under the league's new playoff format, the Lynx secured the No. 1 seed and received a double-bye to the semifinals. They won seven of their last eight games but have not played since defeating the Atlanta Dream 95-87 in the regular season finale on Sept. 17.
Phoenix went 16-18 during the regular season to claim the WNBA's eighth and final playoff berth. The Mercury went 10-14 before the month-long Olympic break, but won eight of their next 12.
Phoenix has won four in a row and five of its last six, including road victories over fifth-seeded Indiana and the third-seeded New York Liberty in the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Diana Taurasi scored 20 points and DeWanna Bonner had 18 in an 89-78 victory over the Fever. Taurasi scored 30 points in a 101-94 victory over New York.
The Lynx swept the three-game season series against the Mercury, winning 95-76, 85-78 and 89-81. All three contests were played in the first month of the season.
Minnesota and Phoenix have been two of the most successful franchises in the history of the WNBA. Both have won three league championships and can join the now-defunct Houston Comets as the only teams with four titles.
Minnesota is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back WNBA championships since the Los Angeles Sparks accomplished the feat in 2001 and 2002.