Lynx (27-9) vs. Phoenix (31-5)
Game 1: 9 p.m. Friday at US Airways Center
Game 2: 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Target Center
Game 3 (if necessary): 9 p.m. Tuesday at US Airways Center
TV: NBA TV for Games 1 and 3; Ch. 5 for Game 2
Radio: 106.1 FM
Lynx: The Mercury won three of four games between the two teams this season, but Lynx G Seimone Augustus missed one of those games and F Rebekkah Brunson missed two. “It’s a challenge that we feel ready for,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It is two teams that are really confident in what they do.” The Mercury and Lynx are the two best shooting teams and the two teams with the top scoring differential. And, in recent weeks, the Lynx have become a better defensive team In the 11 games Brunson played, the team’s rebound differential basically doubled and opponents shot about 40 percent. After the Mercury won the first two games between the teams, the Lynx ended Phoenix’s 16-game winning streak. The Mercury returned the favor in the fourth game, when Phoenix ended an 11-game Lynx streak with a two-point victory. F Maya Moore averaged 25.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists vs. Phoenix. G Augustus averaged 15.7 points in three games vs. the Mercury and G Lindsay Whalen, who finished second in the league in assists, averaged 12 points and 4.8 assists in the four games.
Phoenix: The Mercury did not lose a game to injury during its record-breaking 29-win season. Helped by defensive player of the year Brittney Griner’s league-record 129 blocks, the Mercury was the WNBA’s most efficient defensive team. G Diana Taurasi can still score — she was eighth in the league at 16.2 points per game — but she also led the league in assists (5.6). C Griner finished 10th in scoring (15.6), first in blocks (3.8) and ninth in rebounds (8.0).
Fact: This is the first time the Lynx have started a playoff series on the road under coach Cheryl Reeve.
Injuries: Phoenix has none. Lynx F/C Damiris Dantas, who has been dealing with a family matter that kept her out of the conference semifinals and two practices this week, is available.
Prediction: Mercury in three games. Phoenix has been the more consistent of the two teams this season. Even while winning the Lynx have had more ups and downs.
Lynx PPG RPG APG SPG
F Rebekkah Brunson 7.2 8.2 1.5 0.3
F Maya Moore 23.9 8.1 3.4 1.9
C Janel McCarville 7.9 4.8 3.1 1.2
G Seimone Augustus 16.5 3.6 2.4 0.4
G Lindsay Whalen 14.1 4.2 5.6 0.9
F Candice Dupree 14.5 7.6 2.4 0.9
F DeWanna Bonner 10.4 4.1 2.3 1.4
C Brittney Griner 15.6 8.0 1.6 0.7
G Penny Taylor 10.5 3.1 3.1 1.2
G Diana Taurasi 16.2 3.8 5.6 0.7
EASTERN CONFERENCE finals
Indiana (18-18) vs. Chicago (17-20)
Game 1: 6 p.m. Saturday at Indiana. Game 2: 3 p.m. Monday at Chicago. Game 3 (if necessary): 6 p.m. Wednesday at Indiana.
At a glance: Indiana had to play much of the season without star forward Tamika Catchings (bad back). The Sky had to play through numerous health problems this season that kept the likes of Epiphanny Prince, Sylvia Fowles, Jessica Breland and Courtney Vandersloot out for various stretches. And Elena Delle Donne missed more than half the season dealing with Lyme disease. But that’s where the similarities end. The Fever, with Catchings back, is hoping to send coach Lin Dunn into retirement with a second title in three years. The Sky is making its first appearance in the conference finals.
Prediction: Chicago in three games.