I don’t think anybody should be surprised that today’s series-clinching victory over Seattle was a real test for the Lynx.
Yes, the Lynx did not lose to the Storm all season.
Yes, the Storm has been hamstrung by injury since before the season started.
But, backs against the wall, the Storm went out and worked hard, played great defense and forced the Lynx into a grind-it-out game.
The Lynx (28-8) now advance to the Western Conference finals against the winner of tomorrow’s Mercury-Sparks game in Los Angeles. The first game will be at Target Center, and I believe the starting time will be 8 p.m.
TV, you know.
So what should we take out of this victory?
--That the Lynx can win these gritty games.
Minnesota shot just 37.7 percent. They were forced into 17 turnovers. They were on the road. And they won despite off-nights by both Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen. The Lynx led by seven midway through the fourth quarter, after Augustus scored. But the Storm rallied to take a one-point lead with 1:20 left on Tina Thompson’s drive.
But those proved to be the final points in Thompson’s stellar career.
After Whalen was called for an offensive foul, the Lynx forced the Storm into a shot clock violation. Then Augustus hit a 15-foot jumper from the right side with 21.1 seconds left. At the other end Rebekkah Brunson got a steal, was fouled and hit two game-sealing free throws.
--That it doesn’t matter what Augustus has done for the first three quarters. She was 2-for-10 through the first three quarters. But she was 3-for-6 for six points, the game-winning jumper and a rebound in the fourth quarter.
--Forward Rebekkah Brunson was very, very good again. Brunson had 15 points and 13 rebounds. That includes three rebounds, an assist and five points in the fourth quarter.
--Moore picked up where she left off after a strong second half Friday. Moore had a game-high 22 points on 7-for-12 shooting – going 3-for-5 on three-pointers – with seven rebounds, three assists and three steals.
--Lindsay Whalen had a rather subdued series. She had seven points on Friday, with four assists. Sunday she was 3-for-11 from the field for six points, with one assist and three turnovers. I think Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve will give Whalen an extra day of rest this week prepping for the conference finals.
--So who do the Lynx want to face on Thursday? Given their regular-season results, you’d have to go with the Lynx preferring Phoenix; the Lynx were 2-3 vs. L.A. – with all three losses coming on the road – but 5-0 vs. Phoenix.
Should anybody be surprised by the Indiana-Chicago result? Not me. I picked the Fever to upset the Sky. Indiana is battle-tested, veteran and very very tough in the playoffs. Chicago had never been in the playoffs before.
Having said that, and not knowing who the Fever will face in the Eastern Conference finals, I am going to predict that Indiana will advance to the finals to defend its title.