Lynx: Went 22-12 in the regular season to capture the top seed in the West. They beat Los Angeles two games to one in the conference semifinals and swept Phoenix 2-0 in the conference finals.
Fever: Went 20-14 in the regular season to capture the No. 3 seed in the East. It beat Chicago 2-1 in the conference semifinals and New York 2-1 in the conference finals.
Season series: The Lynx won both games, including an 85-61 victory late in the regular season.
The Lynx reached the finals thanks to a stifling defense and Maya Moore. Their opponents have shot 43 percent and averaged 71.4 points in the playoffs. Moore is first in playoff scoring (27.8) and steals (2.6). Sylvia Fowles (10.0) and Rebekkah Brunson (9.2) are second and third in rebounding in the playoffs. Seimone Augustus is averaging 13.8 points per game but shooting just 38.4 percent.
Indiana is on a role. After falling behind New York by 18 in the second quarter of Game 2, the Fever outscored the Liberty by 39 points the rest of the series. That meant a comeback win in Game 2 and a 15-point drubbing of the Liberty in New York in Game 3. F Tamika Catchings is averaging 19.7 points on 49.4 percent shooting in the playoffs, followed by G Shenise Johnson (12.3 ppg) and F Marissa Coleman (12.3).
Moore vs. Catchings: They figure to see a lot of each other. Moore has been a machine, and Catchings has taken her game to a new level in the playoffs. Catchings may be the most inspiring teammate in the game.
Down low: So far Fowles has done just what the Lynx wanted when they traded for her. She was very good against L.A. in the conference semifinals, absolutely outstanding vs. Brittney Griner in the conference finals. Ditto for Brunson. With Coleman and Erlana Larkins, the Fever leads all playoff teams with 35.7 points in the paint per game. But the Lynx have been tops in defending the paint, allowing 28.8.
On the perimeter: The Indiana backcourt of Johnson and Briann January — plus top backup Shavonte Zellous — will give the Lynx all they can handle. Minnesota is banking on both Augustus and Lindsay Whalen — both of whom came back from injuries to play in the playoffs — to benefit from a week off. Minnesota has gotten timely scoring and strong defense from Anna Cruz, and Renee Montgomery may see a bit more time playing Indiana’s quick guards.
kent youngblood’s Prediction
Lynx in five games.