Lynx

Lynx Mailbag: Regular Season is Over, Playoffs are Here and Looking Ahead

(image credit: courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter)

It’s officially one of the most exciting times of the year for WNBA fans.

With the 34-game regular season schedule concluding around the league on Sunday afternoon, it’s finally playoff time for eight teams in the WNBA.

Entering the day, there were four seeds that still needed to be decided before the playoff bracket would be set in stone prior to the start oft he postseason.

At the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, the Las Vegas Aces and the Chicago Sky were in a dash in the final game of the year to try and obtain the best possible seed for the playoffs, with the Aces ultimately finishing as the No. 4 seed and securing a first-round bye. The Sky ended up clinching the No. 5 seed, hosting the No. 8 Phoenix Mercury in the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday.

At the Nos. 6 and 7 seeds, the Minnesota Lynx and the Seattle Storm brought that race down to the final game of the regular season as well. Minnesota needed to win or have Seattle lose in order to clinch the sixth seed, but the Lynx fell to the Storm and Seattle beat Dallas to jump back in front of Minnesota in the standings.

The sixth-seeded Storm will host the seventh-seeded Lynx in the opening round of the playoffs at 9 p.m. CT on Wednesday in what should be an entertaining single-elimination contest.

Heading into the opening night of the postseason in the middle of the week, here’s the full playoff schedule as released by the WNBA:

With the regular season over and the playoffs kicking off this week, let’s take a dive into some questions you submitted surrounding the Lynx and the league in general.

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In the opening round of the playoffs on Wednesday night at 9 p.m. CT at the Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, Wash., the Lynx will have their hands full when taking on the defending champion Storm in the single-elimination showdown.

Throughout the course of the regular season, Minnesota and Seattle faced off a total of four times, with the Storm holding a 3-1 advantage in the series. The Lynx won the first matchup of the four-game series on May 29, before the Storm bounced back to take the final three games during the summer.

Not only will Minnesota hit the road to face the defending champs, but the Lynx will be taking on a tough opposition in Seattle that is really hard to beat when it is playing in front of its home crowd.

In the regular season, the Storm finished their 17-game home slate at Alaska Airlines Arena in Seattle with a record of 11-6 overall. On the other hand, the Lynx put together a 7-10 record away from Minneapolis and on the road in the regular season.

When it comes to the x-factor and who Minnesota will need to try and focus on in the matchup, the biggest thing to monitor is how former Lynx forward Natasha Howard performs throughout the course of the opening-round contest.

Howard has had her former team’s number so far in 2019, averaging 16.5 points, six rebounds and one assist in four games against Minnesota this year. Since she arrived in Seattle a few years ago, Howard has taking a nice step in terms of development and has emerged as one of Seattle’s primary threats so far this summer.

It will be important for the Lynx post players in Sylvia Fowles and Damiris Dantas, along with rookie Napheesa Collier and others, to try and step up and not only keep Howard in check, but to also try and counter Howard’s explosiveness and energy that she has displayed in the four previous matchups during the regular season.

Minnesota would have ultimately liked to be facing Seattle on its home court at Target Center rather than hitting the road for the single-elimination postseason contest, but that’s the situation the Lynx now find themselves in as they will enter a tough road environment on Wednesday night in the first round.

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Although the 2019 season isn’t over just yet for the Lynx, it’s hard to not look ahead to how this team could look if Maya Moore and/or Rebekkah Brunson do indeed return to the team next season.

With the incorporation of Collier into the thick of things within Minnesota’s rotation, the thought of her being paired alongside the likes of Moore and Brunson, along with the current cast of Lynx players, is certainly intriguing.

When it comes to reintegrating Moore and/or Brunson into the rotation, I’d imagine that wouldn’t be an issue or take much of an adjustment when, or even if, the duo returns to the court for Minnesota in 2020.

Specifically when it comes to Moore potentially returning to the rotation and the starting lineup next season, she or Collier would likely slide to play more in the power forward slot for the Lynx. Moore spent some of the 2018 campaign playing in that role, while Collier spent a decent amount of the regular season this summer in that role for Minnesota.

Both Moore and Collier play somewhat of similar styles and their games match up closely to each other in terms of what they are able to do both offensively and defensively, which would allow Cheryl Reeve and company the ability to mix and match the two players based on the type of matchups they would face night-in and night-out.

When it comes to Brunson and her potential return to the team next summer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see her move into more of a second unit or bench role, given both her and Moore’s return to the rotation.

If Brunson returns and Moore doesn’t, that would provide Minnesota the ability to move the veteran post and five-time WNBA champion potentially in the spot that Dantas obtains within the Lynx starting lineup, pairing her alongside Fowles in the post once again.

First, let’s get through the rest of the 2019 season before we look ahead to the 2020 campaign and the potential return of Moore and/or Brunson, but the thought of maybe getting those two veteran players back into the thick of things is awfully intriguing following seeing the Lynx play this year and the emergence of some new faces within the rotation.

That will do it for this week’s mailbag. As always, thanks for submitting your questions and for reading all season long, Lynx fans. Enjoy the start of the playoffs and one of the best times of the year this week.

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(image credit: courtesy of the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter)

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