- Michelle Smith, Contributor, espnW.com
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(1) Minnesota vs. (4) San Antonio
It's a tough draw for the Silver Stars to go into the playoffs and face the best team in the league. Minnesota has been unrelentingly good this season, particularly against San Antonio, having swept the season series.
The good news for Minnesota: Eight of the 11 teams that have won more than 25 games in the regular season have gone on to win the WNBA title. And no 25-win team has ever lost in the first round.
Rebekkah Brunson got the Lynx off to such a great start this season, Maya Moore has generated much excitement, and Seimone Augustus has taken the scoring lead -- but point guard Lindsay Whalen is driving this bus. Whalen is scoring and distributing and putting up numbers that have put her in the hunt for MVP honors.
San Antonio's roller coaster has been on the upswing over the past couple of weeks. The Silver Stars head into the playoffs with a few wins under their belt after a six-game losing streak nearly jeopardized their fifth straight postseason appearance.
Hammon has led the charge for San Antonio, averaging 20.8 points over her last four games.
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While Minnesota swept the regular-season series, two of the games came down to last-second, game-winning shots (by Whalen and McWilliams-Franklin). The ponytailed point guards in this matchup will need to play to their strengths. Whalen needs to continue her MVP season and distribute to her talented teammates, while Hammon needs to score.
Michelle Smith: Lynx in 3. The Lynx have too much talent and balance for the Stars to match.
Mechelle Voepel: Lynx in 2. The Silver Stars as a franchise have more playoff experience than the Lynx, but in this series that likely won't make much difference. Minnesota won all four matchups with San Antonio this season, and the biggest key was on the boards. The Lynx outrebounded the Silver Stars by an average of 13 in the four games. That was skewed a bit by their last meeting, in which the Lynx won the board battle by 23, but it's going to be difficult for the Silver Stars to overcome Minnesota's decided edge on the boards.
Pat Borzi: Lynx in 3. Don't be lulled by the Lynx sweeping the four-game season series. Buzzer-beaters decided the first two and Silver Stars coach Dan Hughes is due to steal one from Cheryl Reeve, his former assistant in Cleveland. Nevertheless, the Lynx, in their first postseason since 2004, will ride Brunson, Taj McWilliams-Franklin and a superior inside game into the next round.
Meri-Jo Borzilleri: Lynx in 2. The Silver Stars went cold in the season's second half and barely secured the last spot in the playoffs. Minnesota, led by league MVP candidate Whalen and poised rookie phenom Moore, had the WNBA's best record (27-7) and finished the regular season strong, winning eight of nine. The Lynx will prove too much for Hammon, Sophia Young and surprise All-Star rookie Danielle Adams.
Minnesota is a dominant team, loaded with talent, and our experts don't have good news for Phoenix as WNBA playoffs tip off.