Minnesota sports playoff history is full of all sorts of ugliness if you look at things from a certain angle (such as, you know, four Super Bowl losses, the Twins’ current streak of 19 losses in their past 21 playoff games, the Wolves getting bounced in the first round seven years in a row … that kind of thing).
But with the Lynx preparing for a deciding game in their best-of-three Western Conference semifinals series against Los Angeles on Tuesday night at Target Center, I thought it would be prudent to remind Minnesota fans that if there is one area in which local pro teams have thrived in recent years, it is in these exact situations.
Like I said: the big picture isn’t all that pretty. But let’s isolate on deciding games of series over the past 30 seasons for the Lynx, Twins, Timberwolves and Wild:
Lynx: It’s a mixed bag for the Lynx, who lost Game 3 of their 2003 conference semifinal series against Los Angeles and also lost to Phoenix in a deciding third game of the conference finals last year. But this group did win the third and deciding game of its 2011 conference semifinal series against San Antonio en route to a WNBA title and also won Game 3 against Seattle in 2012.
Timberwolves: It’s again a mixed bag (don’t worry, I’m saving the best for last). The 1998 Wolves lost a series-deciding Game 5 in Seattle, but six years later they won the most memorable series in franchise history by besting the Kings in seven games. Kevin Garnett had 32 points and 21 rebounds in the clincher, an 83-80 victory at Target Center. The Wolves haven’t been in the playoffs since that season.
Wild: OK, here’s where it gets really good. The Wild is an impressive 3-0 all-time in Game 7s, all of them on the road — twice at Colorado (2003 and 2014) and once at Vancouver (the next round in 2003). The Wild has been knocked out of the playoffs six times — twice each in four, five and six games.
Twins: So yes, the Twins are 2-19 in their past 21 playoff games dating to Game 2 of the ALCS against the Angels. But get them in a clinching game — if they could only get there — and they’re a magical 3-0 in the past 30 years. There’s the 2002 ALDS, when the won 5-4 at Oakland in Game 5. And some of you might remember a couple of Game 7 World Series clinchers in 1987 and 1991.
Between the four teams, that’s a combined 9-3 record in the past 12 games where both teams were in win-or-go-home mode. What does any of this mean for the Lynx on Tuesday night? Pretty much nothing. But if you’re the type of fan who expects the worst, maybe have some confidence in this case.