There may still be a handful of games left in the season, but the Minnesota Lynx already know they will be playing beyond the regular season later this month. On Tuesday, following the Atlanta Dream’s win over the Indiana Fever, Minnesota officially clinched a spot in the postseason yet again with five games left to be played before the playoffs begin.
The playoff berth extends one of the more impressive active streaks throughout the WNBA, marking the 10th straight season the Lynx have reached the postseason, the longest active streak in the league and the third time a team has reached the playoffs 10 or more times in a row in WNBA history.
The two other teams in league history who have managed to make the playoffs 10 or more consecutive seasons are the Indiana Fever (12 straight appearances from 2005-16) and the Seattle Storm (10 straight appearances from 2004-13).
“We’re super proud of that as a franchise. That’s something you set out to do,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said on Wednesday. “Every year that you’re in it, you have to be in the playoffs. You can’t win a championship unless you’re in the playoffs. For many years, we never took that for granted. It’s not easy to do, otherwise more people would do it. It’s something we are really proud of.”
With a playoff berth wrapped up, that allows Minnesota the ability to look ahead to the final stretch of the regular season while it still tries to fight for playoff positioning and grab the best seed possible.
On Wednesday, Minnesota secured a big win over the Chicago Sky to improve to 12-5 on the year and claim yet another winning season while also remaining in fourth place in the league standings. The win gives the Lynx some breathing room as the fourth seed while still right on the heels of the Los Angeles Sparks, Las Vegas Aces and Seattle atop the league standings.
“Any game is a big one as far as seeding,” Crystal Dangerfield said after Wednesday’s win. “But to get a win in a game like this one (against Chicago) was big.”
The importance of remaining a top-4 seed in the standings is that those teams receive a coveted bye to start the playoffs. If Minnesota remains as the fourth seed or moves up to the third seed by the end of the regular season it would get a first-round bye in the postseason. If it would happen to get to a top-2 seed, those teams receive a two-round bye and automatically reach the best-of-5 semifinal round.
“This team isn’t thinking about a decade-long of success, I can tell you that. They are worried about what the game plan is to try and win,” Reeve said. “(The playoff streak) is something that we will take time out to recognize. They are a part of something really special. A decade-long of consistent success and that shouldn’t be understated because it’s hard to do.”
Although they already have yet another postseason berth wrapped up, the Lynx aren’t about to let up on the gas during the last handful of games over the next week and a half to end the regular season. Minnesota wants to continue its strong play as of late and ride that success into the playoffs for what is now a 10th straight time.
“Just being able to put 40 minutes together of solid defense and sticking to the game plan, we’ll put ourselves in a good position to win games,” Bridget Carleton said Wednesday. “I think that’s been our mindset ever since the beginning of the season and it just has to continue. That consistency, when that’s there, I think we are going to be hard to beat.”