Coming into the final month of the regular season, the Minnesota Lynx were looking to finish the summer strong while heading into another appearance in the WNBA Playoffs. They were already among the top four of the league standings while having a relatively favorable schedule for the remainder of the season as they head into their 11th straight appearance in the postseason. They also finished out the month of August with a full week off to rest up and practice going into an important stretch of the schedule.
However, Minnesota found itself dealing with some unfortunate injuries to two key players in the starting lineup. Layshia Clarendon has missed the last few games with a lower leg injury, while Damiris Dantas suffered a Lisfranc injury in her right foot during a game against the New York Liberty on Aug. 31 that won’t require surgery but will end her season.
Even though they are short-handed at a key point in the season, the Lynx are not letting that impact their performance and are one of the hottest teams in the WNBA at the best possible time.
“You can’t let (injuries occurring) be emotional or mental. Everybody in the league knows when you have an injury, it’s very unfortunate for the person injured, but it’s an opportunity for someone else,” Lynx head coach and general manager Cheryl Reeve said. “We’re still learning through that, and that’s probably the biggest impact. … It’s one of those things where you can’t take too much time on it.”
Going into Wednesday’s game against the Las Vegas Aces, Minnesota holds a record of 18-9 overall and is percentage points ahead of the Seattle Storm (19-10) for third place in the league standings. The Lynx have won five in a row and eight of their last 10 with five games left in the regular-season schedule.
Even though Minnesota has a spot in the postseason secured, it still is fighting for seeding in the playoffs, and Wednesday’s game in Las Vegas will be one of the biggest games in determining the seed the Lynx end up receiving. Minnesota will travel to Las Vegas on Wednesday to face the Aces at 8 p.m. CT on ESPN2 at Michelob ULTRA Arena. Las Vegas holds a 1.5-game lead over Minnesota and Seattle for the No. 2 seed, meaning the Lynx could close the gap on moving up to as high as the second seed, or the Aces could create valuable room in separating themselves from the Lynx and Storm.
“The season’s not over, and our seeding has not been decided. We’re business as usual,” Reeve said last week. “We did take a moment to acknowledge (clinching a playoff spot). It’s important not to take anything for granted; making the playoffs in this league 11 straight years. The team in the locker room is not thinking about making the playoffs 11 straight years; they’re only thinking about this one.
“It’s a necessary first step to our goal. We have more games to play, and we want to put ourselves in a position where we want to be right there to take advantage of it if anything happens above us. We have to win to be able to do that.”
Regardless of the positioning Minnesota ends up getting for the playoffs and being shorthanded as the regular season comes to a close over the next two weeks, it is playing well at just the right time with the postseason inching closer.
Playoff Picture and Remainder of Regular Season
There are about a handful of games left to determine the final seeding and standings going into the playoffs at the end of the month, but the postseason picture is starting to take shape with nearly the entire playoff field set. Six teams have been claimed by the top six squads in the WNBA, with the final two spots left to be decided between four teams.
Seeding is still up for grabs, with basically the top five seeds still likely to see some shifting over the final few weeks of the year. At the bottom of the standings, there are three teams within a half-game of each other that are fighting from either reaching the playoffs as a bottom seed or missing the postseason altogether.
Here’s the current look at the WNBA playoff picture, going into Tuesday’s slate of games:
|WNBA Playoff Picture
(As of Sept. 7)
|No. 1 Connecticut Sun (21-6, – GB)*|
|No. 2 Las Vegas Aces (20-8, 1.5 GB)*|
|No. 3 Minnesota Lynx (18-9, 3 GB)*|
|No. 4 Seattle Storm (19-10, 3 GB)*|
|No. 5 Phoenix Mercury (18-10, 3.5 GB)*|
|No. 6 Chicago Sky (15-14, 7 GB)*|
|No. 7 Dallas Wings (12-16, 9.5 GB)|
|No. 8 New York Liberty (11-18, 11 GB)|
|No. 9 Washington Mystics (10-17, 11 GB)|
|No. 10 Los Angeles Sparks (10-18, 11.5 GB)|
|*Clinched Playoff Berth|
When it comes to the Lynx and their remaining schedule, a few big games are coming up, including Wednesday’s potential playoff preview against the Aces, along with the regular-season finale against the Washington Mystics on Sept. 19. There will be a trio of games mixed in against the Indiana Fever, who are in last place and will miss the playoffs — although they haven’t officially been mathematically eliminated yet. Two of those games against Indiana will be played in Minneapolis, with the third and final matchup on Sept. 17 taking place in Indianapolis.
|Remaining Minnesota Lynx Schedule
|Wednesday, Sept. 8||at Las Vegas Aces||8 p.m. CT (ESPN2)|
|Friday, Sept. 10||vs. Indiana Fever||7 p.m. CT (Twitter)|
|Sunday, Sept. 12||vs. Indiana Fever||6 p.m. CT (NBA TV)|
|Friday, Sept. 17||at Indiana Fever||6 p.m. CT (CBSSN, Bally Sports North+)|
|Sunday, Sept. 19||at Washington Mystics||2 p.m. CT (ESPN3)|
There is still plenty left to be decided for both the Lynx and the rest of the WNBA as we inch closer to the playoffs. But Minnesota has been playing well lately, and the remaining five games of the regular season will determine a lot for the Lynx regarding what position they will hold when the postseason tips off on Sept. 23.