Web Editorial Associate
6:30 p.m., Target Center
Where to Watch: ESPN
Where to Listen: 106.1 BOB FM
It’s the time we’ve all been waiting for!
The Minnesota Lynx will kick-off the 20th WNBA season on Saturday night when they take on the Phoenix Mercury.
Arguably Minnesota’s biggest rival, the Mercury come into the Target Center looking to defeat the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season in the Western Conference Finals.
Phoenix made a run at the WNBA Finals last season without one of their best players, and one of the best women’s basketball players ever, in Diana Taurasi.
Considering the new WNBA playoff format, every game in the regular season is extremely important, so look for Saturday night’s game to be an epic battle.
Keep these interesting factoids in mind before tuning in for tonight’s season opener:
- The WNBA polled all of the league’s general managers and found that the Phoenix Mercury are heavily favored to win the 2016 WNBA Championship. When asked about the survey, Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said it sends a, ‘loud message.’ WNBA GM Survey
- Minnesota will look to accomplish something this season that hasn’t been done in the WNBA since 2002, win back-to-back Championships. Playing one of the best teams in the league, the Mercury, three times in their first eight games will surely test the defending Champions early on.
- The same five that started for the Lynx in game five of the 2015 Finals will be on the court for the 2016 regular season tip-off. Despite arriving to camp this week, Seimone Augustus (May 10th) and Rebekkah Brunson (May 13th) will indeed start for Minnesota.
Coming Off Of…
The Lynx had a memorable time in Rochester, Minn., for a couple of reasons last weekend, on May 7th & 8th. Minnesota had a game to forget against the Washington Mystics on Mother’s Day as they were crushed 85-68 in front of 4,524 die-hard Lynx fans. Keisha Hampton put in a team-high 15 points while Maya Moore contributed nicely with 14 points and four rebounds. The weekend in Rochester was not all bad, however, as the team hosted a free basketball clinic on Saturday, and were extremely pleased with the fan support at the Rochester Civic Center for the game.
The Mercury also competed last weekend on Mother’s Day and also come out on the losing end to the Seattle Storm, 76-70. Brittney Griner, Diana Taurarsi and DeWanna Bonner all did not play, but Mistie Bass led the team with 14 points and six boards.
These two powerhouses last competed on Sept. 27th, 2015 and to say that Moore put the team on her back would be putting in lightly. Leading the team to a 72-71 victory, Moore tossed in a career playoff-high 40 points, while also tallying eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sylvia Fowles, Augustus and Anna Cruz also all contributed with eight points a piece.
All of Phoenix’ starters played well as four of them scored over 13 points each. Griner had 15 points and six boards, Monique Currie put in 14 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out six assists, while Candice Dupree scored a team-high 16 points on 54.5 percent shooting from the field.
Key Matchup: Sylvia Fowles vs. Brittney Griner
A battle of two of the best and biggest centers in the league, can you ask for anything more? In one of the feature match-ups in last year’s Western Conference Finals, Fowles did a nice job keeping the taller Griner at bay and making her work for everything. Minnesota’s prized center snatched 14 rebounds in both playoff games against Phoenix last season and held Griner to an average of 12 points and six boards in the two Lynx victories.
MIN: G- Whalen, G- Augustus, F- Moore, F- Brunson, C- Fowles
PHX: G- Quinn, G- Taurasi, F- Bonner, F- Dupree, C- Griner