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2014 WNBA playoffs predictions: Minnesota Lynx expects to advance to WC Finals

The San Antonio Stars will began their 2014 Western Conference playoff campaign against the Minnesota Lynx, the defending WNBA champs, on Aug. 21. It may seem San Antonio (16-18), seeded third, virtually has no shot against the Lynx (25-9), seeded third, but the Stars have won three straight and defeated the Lynx last week.

1. Maya Moore
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Minnesota won the first four meetings between the teams but the Lynx have flaws, which were wildly evident in their losing 3-of-their-lasst-4 games. The Lynx defeated the Tulsa Shock (80-63) to close out the regular season with a victory on Aug. 16.

About San Antonio: The Stars won three straight to snatch the third seed from the Los Angeles Sparks.

San Antonio is ranked in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories but was the best three-point shooting team at 35.9 percent. The Stars are fifth in scoring (77.79), fifth in assists ( 18.7) and seventh in field goal percentage (43.0).

Defense is a different story. The Stars rank dead last in defensive field goal percentage (47.4 percent) and second-to-last in scoring, permitting 79.56 points a game. San Antonio ranked sixth in defending the three-point shot (32.2 percent).

About Minnesota: The defending champs are gunning for their fourth straight WNBA Finals appearance. The Lynx were in contention for a number one seed until going through their recent three-game skid.

Minnesota is very good at finding the open shooter as they topped the league in assists (20.29). The Lynx ranked second in the league in scoring (81.65) and second field goal percentage (46.7). In addition, they were fourth in three-point shooting (33.8 percent).

Defensively, the Lynx are not awful but also not outstanding. Minnesota was sixth in scoring defense (77.18), fourth in opponent shooting percentage (44.3 percent) and ninth in three-point defense (34.9 percent).

Key matchup:

Maya Moore (Min) vs. Kayla McBride (SA)

This should be an excellent mono-e-mono matchup.

Moore won her first WNBA scoring title by averaging 23.9 points a game. She is an unbelievable score who can get points at all three levels. Moore, the favorite to win the league MVP, has improved her rebounding and playmaking this year. In addition, Moore is very good on the defensive end.

Moore shot 54.4 percent from the field, 33.5 percent from beyond the arc (62-of-185) and 88.4 percent from the charity stripe. She also grabbed 70 offensive rebounds, collected 64 steals and added 28 blocked shots.

McBride, the third pick in the 2014 draft, is a scorer who can really stroke the basketball from long distance. She tallied double-figures 21 times, reaching the 30 point mark twice, and averaged a team-leading 13.0 points a game. She shot 40.6 percent from the field and 39.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Prediction: Minnesota in two games. Moore and Seimone Augustus (16.5 ppg) provide a dynamic scoring duo that San Antonio can’t match. Moore, Augustus and Lindsay Whalen (14.1 ppg) combine for 55 of the Lynx 81 points they get per game. The key for the Lynx will be how much production they can get from their front court, specifically, Rebekkah Brunson and Janel McCarville.

San Antonio is a relatively young team with a few grizzled veterans in Becky Hammon and Sophia Young-Malcolm. Hammon will retire after the season and will join the San Antonio Spurs as an assistant coach. The Stars also have Danielle Robinson, Danielle Adams, Jia Perkins and Jayne Appel.

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