Instead of suffering from a championship hangover, the Minnesota Lynx are once again leaving the rest of the league dizzy.
Without a loss in a meaningful game since mid-September, the WNBA’s lone unbeaten looks to push its winning streak to 14 on Friday night while continuing its mastery of the San Antonio Stars in the opener of this home-and-home set.
The Lynx (5-0) went into the 2013 postseason having won eight of nine down the stretch and tore through the playoffs, winning seven games by an average of more than 15 points en route to a second championship in three years.
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The games have been closer so far in 2014, but the results haven’t changed. Minnesota has won four straight by five points or fewer after rallying in the fourth quarter to take down Chicago – the league’s only other unbeaten – 75-72 on Monday.
Lindsay Whalen led the way with a game-high 22 points as the Lynx overcame a 5-for-14 shooting effort and 14-point day from Maya Moore, who averaged 33.8 in her first four.
"They do have a lot of heads to the snake," Sky star Elena Delle Donne said of Minnesota’s multiple threats.
That’s something San Antonio (3-2) knows all too well as it prepares for face the Lynx twice in three days. Minnesota swept last season’s four-game series by an average of 16.5 points, and has won nine straight against the Stars at home – including the 2011 conference semifinals – since last losing at Target Center on July 22, 2010.
San Antonio also has had an early knack for winning close contests. The Stars have won three of four, all by four points or fewer, after sneaking past Tulsa 82-79 on Wednesday.
After a rocky start to her WNBA career, Kayla McBride made the difference. The third overall pick out of Notre Dame averaged 8.5 points and shot just 29.4 percent in her first four games, but poured in 30 points against the Shock – including the winning 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds left.
"I feel like I’ve been pressing a little bit these last couple of games," McBride said. "I give all credit to my teammates finding me in open spots where I was comfortable. I was knocking in shots. I was just trying to go out there and play and just take advantage of what I could do best."
It hasn’t taken Becky Hammon long to notice the potential in her new teammate, who was 6 when Hammon made her WNBA debut. The 16-year veteran assisted on McBride’s first 3 of the game and found her for the winner.
"I tell her to get ready when I have the ball, because I’m looking for her," Hammon said.
San Antonio may need to shore up its defense if it’s going to have any success against the Lynx this weekend. Stars opponents are shooting 49.7 percent from the field – by far the best in the league – and Minnesota shot 53.7 percent in the final three meetings of last season’s series.