The Lynx, who posted the best record in the WNBA and earned a bye through two rounds, will open their playoff run and title defense Wednesday against the rival Phoenix Mercury, one of two teams to make the playoffs with a losing record.
The eighth-seeded Mercury advanced to the league semifinals Saturday with a 101-94 victory over the host New York Liberty, with Diana Taurasi scoring 30 points and center Brittney Griner adding 22 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
The Mercury and Lynx will play Game 1 of their best-of five series Wednesday night at Xcel Energy Center. Game 2 will be Friday night at Xcel. The second-seeded Los Angeles Sparks will open the semifinals Wednesday against Sunday’s Chicago-Atlanta winner.
Phoenix’s first two rounds were single-elimination games. Taurasi improved her record to 13-3 in WNBA elimination games in her career, including a 6-0 mark on the road.
With Phoenix clinging to a two-point lead early in the fourth quarter Saturday, Taurasi scored five straight points in a 10-2 run that gave the Mercury an 84-76 advantage. New York refused to quit, hitting back-to-back three-pointers to make it 84-82. But that’s as close as the Liberty could get.
New York trailed 90-86 with 1:29 left before Taurasi hit a three-pointer from the wing, pumping her fists at midcourt after it swished through the net and virtually sealed the victory.