The Minnesota Lynx find themselves in the middle of a controversy as the New York Liberty, the Eastern Conference's best team, visit Target Center on Friday.
Last Saturday, four off-duty Minnesota police officers who were working security during a Lynx game against Dallas walked off the job in protest of the team wearing “Black Lives Matter” shirts during warm-ups.
Lt. Bob Kroll, president of the Minnesota Police Federation, Minneapolis mayor Betsy Hodges and NBA commissioner Adam Silver have since made public comments on the issue. And the group “Black Lives Matter” is asking Lynx fans to come out in support at Friday's game.
The Liberty also have been speaking out against the recent gun violence in the United States and wore “Black Lives Matter” warm-up shirts the past two games.
New York (16-6) has won four straight and is 12-2 since a June 7 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks. During the surge, the Liberty have opened a 4 1/2-game lead over the Atlanta Dream in the Eastern Conference. Star forward Tina Charles leads the WNBA in points (22.2) and is third in rebounding (9.3).
The Lynx (17-4) are coming off back-to-back blowout wins. Minnesota dominated San Antonio 81-57 on Tuesday, outrebounding the Stars 43-26, leading to a 26-1 advantage in second-chance points. Maya Moore and Lindsay Whalen combined for 46 points in the win.
Moore is averaging 20.2 points per game, third in the league.
“Our mind-set is just to be disruptive, try to slow people's flow and slow their roll by being physical, being aggressive, being aware and connected and just trying to outwork the team that we're playing,” Moore told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune after the win over San Antonio.
Moore scored 25 points in Minnesota's 79-69 road win over New York on June 4.
The victory was part of the Lynx's record 13-game win streak to open the season.
New York got revenge on June 29, nipping Minnesota 95-92 in overtime. Liberty guard Sugar Rogers had a career-high 30 points in New York's fourth victory in its last five meetings with the Lynx.