Lynx in pursuit of No. 1 seed as Sky continue playoff push
Entering the final weekend of the WNBA regular season, the Minnesota Lynx and Chicago Sky have very different playoff aspirations.
The Lynx are trying to secure the No. 1 seed, and the Sky is fighting just to get into the playoffs as the two teams meet Friday evening at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Chicago (12-20) trails Seattle by two games for the final playoff spot. Each team has two games to play.
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The Sky and Storm face each other in Chicago on Sunday in the season finale for both teams.
For that game to have any meaning, the Sky must beat the league’s top team on the road and hope Seattle falls at Washington on Friday.
“It’s one game and anyone can beat anyone,” Sky guard Allie Quigley said of Chicago’s chances of beating Minnesota, according to the Chicago Daily Herald. “We’re going to go in confident and not worry about Seattle and Washington. Just worry about us and then hope for the best in that game.”
Chicago’s playoff hopes would be brighter had it not squandered a 13-point lead in a 99-96 loss to Dallas on Wednesday.
The Wings, who clinched a playoff spot with the win, grabbed 20 offensive rebounds that led to 26 second-chance points, as Chicago squandered one of its best offensive performances — 59 percent shooting, a season-high 33 assists — of the year.
“We fought very hard and this is a tough, tough outcome,” Sky coach Amber Stocks said. “But 20 offensive rebounds by the opponent is significantly debilitating.”
Minnesota (25-7) leads Los Angeles by one game with two to play, but the Sparks hold a potential tiebreaker, having won two of the teams’ three meetings this season.
“We’re on a mission to accomplish a goal that we’re in control of, in terms of our destiny,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said, according to the (Minneapolis) Star Tribune. “… We’re happy to get win No. 25.”
After an 80-69 win over Indiana on Wednesday, Minnesota is 5-5 since losing point guard Lindsay Whalen. The Sparks are 7-2 during that span.
“This is a little dif¬fer¬ent for us,” Reeve told the Star Tribune. “But every jour¬ney is dif¬fer¬ent.”
Reeve has said she expects Whalen back in the postseason.
The Lynx offense has been up and down since Whalen was lost, but Reeve has focused on defense.
“It’s prob¬a¬bly a case where our of¬fen¬sive frus¬tra¬tion led to a lack of de-fen¬sive con¬nec¬tiv¬i¬ty,” Reeve said after her team’s Sunday loss in Los Angeles. “You hope your de¬fense can cov¬er for your of¬fense when it struggles. But in the first half Sun¬day, we gave up 36 points in the paint in the first half. We came un¬glued.”
In the Wednesday win in Indianapolis, the Lynx held the Fever to 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“Just collectively sticking to the game plan defensively, playing team defense,” Maya Moore said, according to the website Swish Appeal. “Our activity was great and I think it caused a lot of disruption, especially in the second half and fourth quarter for us. We were able to pull ahead with putting together consecutive stops going into the fourth.”
If Minnesota wins its final two games — the Lynx host Washington on Sunday — it will clinch the top spot in the playoffs. If the Sparks were to lose one of their final two games, the Lynx would need just one win.
Los Angeles hosts Atlanta (on Friday) and third-place Connecticut (Sunday) to close out the season.