Minnesota Lynx Set for 2016 WNBA Title

The Minnesota Lynx have everything in place to claim another title over the next month.

The Minnesota Lynx were the preseason favorites to win the WNBA title and they certainly haven’t disappointed their fan base thus far. Following a victory over the Indiana Fever on Friday night, the Lynx have improved to 27-6 on the season. They have just one meaningless game to go in their regular-season schedule before they become scoreboard watchers for a bit.

The reason their next game could be viewed as meaningless is because the Lynx don’t need to win it from any point of view. They will play the Atlanta Dream on Saturday evening, however Minnesota can’t be caught for the outright lead in the WNBA. The Atlanta game promises to be the kind where the Lynx just go in, make sure their regulars get some minutes to stay sharp, and then not stress even if they fall behind.

After Saturday, the Lynx will enjoy a double-bye in the semifinals of the WNBA playoffs. Minnesota, like the Los Angeles Sparks, will avoid the one-game elimination scenarios in the first two rounds. What awaits the Lynx is a semifinal series against the lowest seed left alive when the WNBA narrows down to semifinalists. That’s also a semifinal series that Minnesota will have home-court advantage in by virtue of their guaranteed top seed.

Of course Los Angeles, the guaranteed two seed in the playoffs, are sort of sitting pretty as well. However, the Sparks are a team that has not done well since the post-Olympic break. Michelle Smith, writing at WNBA.com on September 15th, made that observation in a recent article:

“The Los Angeles Sparks haven’t looked nearly like the team that ran out to a 20-1 start as of late. Beginning with a two-game stumble right before the Olympic break, Los Angeles has won just four of 10 games. The Sparks lost their No. 1 seed, meaning they won’t have home-court advantage in a potential WNBA Finals matchup with the Lynx, and a little crisis of confidence conceivably could have been brewing in the City of Angels.”

Not only do those points have merit but Los Angeles, in theory, should have the tougher semifinal match-up. As the No. 2 seed they will play a higher seed in the semifinal round, presumably a tougher team that what the Lynx get.

On Friday the Sparks did win, however they only beat the San Antonio Stars. I don’t see that as alleviating any “little crisis of confidence,” as Smith calls it.

The way I’m looking at it, the Lynx have everything in place for another title run. They have rest upcoming while their competition play, they will have home-court advantage in every series they play, and their main competition, the Los Angeles Sparks, are the No. 2 team by seeding alone. In truth, L.A. aren’t looking like anything close to contenders of late.

Lyndsay Whalen of the Lynx suggested other reasons to have confidence in Minnesota:

“We have great leadership in our coaches, we are a veteran team and just want to be playing well heading into the playoffs,” Whalen said recently.

Whalen should be happy for the moment because the Lynx certainly looked poised to claim another title over the next handful of weeks.

Shane Lambert