Cheryl Reeve said clinching the Western Conference regular-season title on Sunday felt great.
“This team has obviously gone through tough times as a franchise," Reeve said after the Lynx beat San Antonio 72-61. "And for us to go from second to worst during last year to first in the West this year is something we are definitely proud of."
The Lynx were 13-21 last season, which tied them with Los Angeles for fourth place in the West but the Sparks advanced to the playoffs on the head-to-head first tiebreaker. Only Tulsa, at 6-28, had a worst record. Now the Lynx are 23-6 and are on a five-game winning streak.
"It doesn’t guarantee us anything, even though we’re having a great season as we understand having home-court advantage is very helpful, we also understand that there are no guarantees," Reeve said in a postgame news release from San Antonio. "We have one more goal in the regular season and then there’s the big prize so we’ll continue to chip away at things that we set out to do in the offseason and go from there.”
The one goal the Lynx still have is finishing with the best regular-season record, which would mean the home court advantage throughout the playoffs. With five games left, the Lynx are 3-1/2 games ahead of Indiana, the first place team in the East. The Fever are 19-9 and have six games left.
'To be able to clinch in a timely manner, especially with five games left is great," said guard Seimone Augustus, who led the Lynx with 20 points. "We now have an opportunity to tweak some things in the last few games that we have and get ready for the postseason. ”
It will be the first postseason for Augustus. The Lynx have not made the playoffs since 2004. Augustus was taken by the Lynx with the No. 1 pick in the 2006 WNBA draft.
MOORE SHOWS MORE
Rookie forward Maya Moore of the Lynx had her first double double with 19 points and 12 rebounds against San Antonio.
"I’ve really seen her grow in her understanding of what’s going on out there," Reeve said of Moore, "which is much greater than what it was when she first got in. Maya is beginning to know players, teams and what their tendencies are as it’s just getting better and better. That is obviously great for us as we move into the playoffs."
Moore played a team-high 33 minutes, 55 seconds and made 7 of 16 shots, including 3 of 8 three-pointers. She also had three assists and a steal.
“Every time she shoots it, you feel there is a strong chance that it can go in," Reeve said. "She does have a quick trigger at times during transition as the post-players are yelling at her on the way down to wait. Her three-pointers against their zone in the fourth quarter were important to us as she had great composure.”
The Lynx were scoreless for almost half the fourth quarter until Moore hit back-to-back three pointers.She had eight of the Lynx's 12 points in the final quarter.
"When someone is struggling, someone else steps up," Moore said, "as we have so many weapons and just the willingness to win that battle over the other team. That’s what we tried to do and we came out on top.”
Augustus said Moore has impressed her with the maturity she has shown. "A lot of people expect so much from her," Augustus said. "She spoiled everyone with what she did in college. She has picked her spots [this season].
"Tonight she hit two big threes at the end of the fourth quarter to seal the game for us as she’s always been consistent for us.”