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|After leading Seattle to the playoffs, Tina Thompson will retire at season's end.|
Minnesota has the league's best record, home-court advantage through the postseason and has spent the season riding the disrespect of watching many people pick Phoenix to win a title. But the Lynx weren't weighed down at all by the chip on their shoulder.
The Lynx swept the regular-season series between these two teams -- they played three times in the final five games of the season -- cementing Minnesota's status as an overwhelming favorite to move on to the Western Conference finals for the fourth straight season.
Maya Moore -- in just her third year -- is having an MVP-caliber year (18.4 PPG), Lindsay Whalen is putting up her best numbers ever, and the sweet-shooting Seimone Augustus rounds out a superstar trio that rarely seems to have an off night. This team was 14-2 at home this year, making it an even bigger uphill climb for Seattle.
The Storm, meanwhile, make their 10th straight playoff appearance -- a league record -- to cap a season that turned out to be something of a pleasant surprise. Most people outside of the Seattle locker room thought it would be a long season when both Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird announced they would be sitting out the summer.
But Brian Agler rallied his troops, relied on veterans such as Tina Thompson, Camille Little and Tanisha Wright, and the Storm ended up in the playoffs again.
Whalen: Her scoring and assist numbers this season are career highs, and she sets the tone for the Lynx. When Whalen is driving and slashing to the basket and getting to the line, the Lynx are at their best. When she's struggling -- as she did in last Thursday's game at Los Angeles -- the Lynx seem out of sync and potentially vulnerable.
Each team's offensive numbers say more about this matchup than perhaps anything else. Minnesota is the WNBA's top-ranked scoring team at 82.9 points a game, while Seattle is ninth at 70.88.
The Lynx have a multitude of ways to put the ball in the basket and strong bench support in Monica Wright.
Seattle, meanwhile, has to hope that it can play defense well enough to stay close.
Michelle Smith: Lynx in two games. The Storm won't go down easily, but Seattle simply doesn't have enough scoring punch to keep up with Minnesota.
Mechelle Voepel: Lynx in two games. Minnesota was favored to beat the Storm in their first-round series last year, too, but came within a barely missed Lauren Jackson jump shot of being upset in three games. This year, the Lynx will be especially intent on closing out this series in two games.