The Storm has been one of the best defensive teams in the WNBA this season. Except when it plays Minnesota.
Seattle is third-best in the league, allowing 73.4 points per game. That includes two games against the Lynx in which the Storm has allowed 93.5 per game, losses by 18 and 23 points at Minnesota.
Now the Storm (15-15), which has clinched a playoff spot, faces the Lynx (23-7) twice at KeyArena, at 7 p.m. Saturday and again Tuesday.
Losses to the Lynx would make it tough for the Storm to pass Phoenix for the third spot in the Western Conference. And a fourth-place finish would mean probably facing Minnesota in a first-round, best-of-three playoff series. The Lynx is close to wrapping up the conference title, 2½ games ahead of Los Angeles going into Friday night.
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Two wins by Minnesota in Seattle would clinch the conference title for the Lynx.
Minnesota defeated Seattle 2-1 in the postseason last year, with Storm star Lauren Jackson missing a possible game-winner with 1.2 seconds remaining in the decisive Game 3 at the Target Center.
“Minnesota is a little tricky,” said second-year Storm forward Tina Thompson, who scored a team-high 18 points in a 97-74 loss in Minnesota last week. “Coach (Cheryl) Reeve has done a great job in creating an offense where she puts her players in a position where they’re most comfortable. … Our task is to find a way defensively to make them uncomfortable so they second-guess and the timing is different. That’s where we need to get in order to compete with this team.”
Third-year forward Maya Moore scored 25 points in the opening half of the Lynx win last week against the Storm. Her team shot 57.7 percent from the field overall, 60 percent from three-point range.
“You’ve really got to play great,” Storm coach Brian Agler said of beating Minnesota. “You just can’t let them run free around the court. You have to stay in plays with them, and we obviously didn’t do that.”
The Storm is a game behind Phoenix (15-13 entering play Friday night) and could still catch the Mercury for third place.
Jayda Evans: 206-464-2067 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @JaydaEvans