For the first time in franchise history, the Minnesota Lynx will not be hosting a first-round playoff game when the WNBA Playoffs kick off Tuesday night.
In the previous 19 seasons that the Lynx franchise has been in existence, Minnesota has reached the playoffs nine times. That includes reaching the playoffs the previous seven summers, marking 2018 the eighth year in a row that the Lynx will appear in the postseason.
Following Sunday night’s win over the Washington Mystics at Target Center, Minnesota officially grabbed the No. 7 seed in the WNBA Playoffs this season. The Lynx will play in a single-elimination game in the opening round of the playoffs against a very familiar opponent, just one they’re not used to seeing this early on in the playoffs.
In a rematch of the WNBA Finals in the last few seasons, Minnesota will take on the No. 6-seeded Los Angeles Sparks at 9:30 p.m. Central Tuesday night in Los Angeles on ESPN2 in a one-game, single-elimination game.
It’s going to be must-watch TV.
“We just can’t avoid each other. There are always the same thoughts, it’s going to be a knockdown, drag-out and we know each other so well. We have to go and play on their floor where they have played well,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “I think both teams have found their seasons to be a bit up and down, but now all of that doesn’t matter and it’s all about Tuesday in a survive and advance game. You’ll see a hard fought game, no doubt about it. … It will probably be vintage Sparks and Lynx, but this time just not in a Finals situation.”
The Lynx and Sparks faced off a total of four times throughout the regular season, with Los Angeles holding a 3-1 advantage in that series.
Sylvia Fowles, who has been key in Minnesota’s success against Los Angeles in the postseason the last few years, has led the way for the Lynx against their biggest rival this summer. In the four games against LA, the 2017 WNBA MVP has averaged 17.5 points, 9.3 rebounds, four assists and 1.5 blocks per game.
“We have to get back to work,” Fowles said. “We know what they bring, they know what we bring, so we just have to make sure we go out to LA prepared. We haven’t been in this position yet, but I would definitely say we are by far the toughest seventh seed (the league has seen).”
The winner of Tuesday’s game in Los Angeles will advance to the second round of the WNBA Playoffs, which is also a single elimination game.
If Minnesota is the lowest remaining seed heading into the second round, it will face No. 3 Washington on Thursday. If Dallas, which is the No. 8 seed and is facing No. 5 Phoenix, advances to the second round, the Lynx will face No. 4 Connecticut on Thursday.
One of the WNBA’s best rivalries will be squaring off in the postseason once again. This time a little earlier than we’re used to, but the bitterness and dislike that each team has for the other will make for an entertaining win-or-go home game nonetheless.
“We always want to fight to the end and send people off the way we should. We did a great job last year and it’s not going to be easy this year, but we know we have what we need right here in this locker room to make that happen,” Seimone Augustus said. “We are going to push as hard as we can.
“We are going to throw the kitchen sink at everybody that we are going to play starting Tuesday and hopefully rolling through until we reach the Finals.”
Full playoff bracket
(All times Central)
First Round – Tuesday, August 21
(Single-elimination games on ESPN2)
- No. 8 Dallas Wings at No. 5 Phoenix Mercury, 7:30 p.m.
- No. 7 Minnesota Lynx at No. 6 Los Angeles Sparks, 9:30 p.m.
Second Round – Thursday, August 23
(Single-elimination games on ESPN2)
- Lowest remaining seed at No. 3 Washington Mystics, 5:30 p.m.
- Highest remaining seed at No. 4 Connecticut Sun, 7:30 p.m.
Semifinals – Sunday, August 26
- Highest remaining seed at No. 2 Atlanta Dream, 2 p.m.
- Lowest remaining seed at No. 1 Seattle Storm, 4 p.m.
WNBA Finals – TBD (Last possible start date is Sept. 16)
- TBD vs. TBD.
To view the full playoff details, click here.