Those surprised at the Lynx's struggles on Friday in beating Seattle have not been paying attention to their recent games.
Ever since beating Indiana at home two weeks to clinch the home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, the Lynx have not played well.
Coach Cheryl Reeve has rested starters, plugging in bench players more. And the team, with a chance at setting an WNBA record for most wins in a season, lost two of its last three games to finish 27-7.
On Sept. 20, the Lynx lost 92-76 at Los Angeles. The 16-point deficit was their largest losing margin of the season. Seimone Augustus, in her second game back after sitting three games with a sprained foot, was a poor three for 11. Backup guard Candice Wiggins was one for eight.
The Lynx shot a woeful 34.8 percent and committed 17 turnovers. Only the play of two reserves kept it close. Devereaux Peters had 17 points and 13 rebounds and Monica Wright had 19 points.
The next night, the Lynx won at Phoenix 89-66. But the Mercury basically played their second string all season long.
Three starters played under 24 minutes. Maya Moore scored 21 points, but the star was little used guard Erin Thorn. She was five of eight on three-point shots and had 17 points. As a team, the Lynx were 10 of 22 behind the arc. That buried the Mercury, a team playing for nothing.
The league's best team in the regular season ended it with another embarrassing performance last Sunday in San Antonio.
The Silver Stars toyed with the Lynx in the first half, taking a 60-47 lead. Final score: San Antonio 99, Lynx 84. Danielle Adams, maybe the league's most out of shape looking player, scored 28 points against the Lynx.
So when the Lynx opened the playoffs Friday, and tried to flip a switch to their 'A' game, it didn't work. They struggled for a half.
I expect they will play much better tonight in Seattle. They want to close the series out. Why gives a less-talented Storm team any chance?
And the Lynx know that a strong Sparks team is already resting up for the Western Conference finals.
* Seattle won the 2010 WNBA title by going 7-0 in the playoffs, but the Storm usually struggles in the postseason. Seattle has lost in the first round of the playoffs in six of its past seven appearances including last year to Phoenix.
* The five Lynx starters have 41 years of experience, counting this season, but Storm coach Brian Agler really like veterans. Seattle's starter have 51 years of toil in the WNBA.
INDIANA IN TROUBLE
Did Indiana's loss to the Lynx on Sept. 17 seal the Fever's playoff fate?
Maybe. Coach Lin Dunn's team lost its two starting guards in that game, Briann January and Shavonte Zellous to head injuries. Because of concussion-like symptoms they did not play in Indiana's final three regular-season games and were not cleared to practice until late last week.
The played against Atlanta on Friday, but the Dream won 75-66. Zellous was largely a non-factor. She played nearly 21 minutes, but had four points, two rebounds and two assists.
January had an average game at best in her return. She had 10 points, but committed four turnovers and had only three assists before fouling out.
Indiana had 18 turnovers and shot only 40 percent. On three-point attempts, the Fever was three for 13.
Katie Douglas led Indiana with 13 points, so nobody had a big scoring game.
Tamika Catchings, third in the MVP voting, was two for 11. She had 10 points, but six came on free throws. She also had 11 rebounds but nobody else was rebounding for the Fever.
Atlanta ruled the boards 40-29.
The Dream has won six games in a row. And, with today's game being at Philips Arena in Atlanta, should put the Fever out of its misery. I'm predicting Atlanta wins their best-of-three Eastern Conference semifinal series in two games.