This matchup between the Minnesota Lynx and the Seattle Storm may well serve as a preview of the postseason.
The Lynx visit the Storm on Tuesday night for the second time in four days, and if the current standings hold up, the teams will meet again in the Western Conference Semifinals.
Minnesota (24-7) can secure its third straight outright conference championship with one win in its final three games or a loss by second-place Los Angeles. The Lynx clinched at least a share of the title with their 75-60 victory over the Storm on Saturday.
"Every little victory is celebrated," forward Maya Moore said. "We definitely know we're a step closer, and we're going to use that as momentum to give us that much more motivation for this next game."
The Storm (15-16) are 2 1/2 games back of third-place Phoenix and appear likely to finish in fourth, which would probably result in a trip to Minneapolis to open the playoffs.
That was also the case last year when No. 1 seed Minnesota met Seattle in a tight semifinal series. The Storm forced a third game with a double-overtime victory at home, and the Lynx advanced only after Seattle's Lauren Jackson missed a turnaround jumper in the final seconds of Game 3.
Minnesota has had Seattle's number lately, winning 10 of the past 12 matchups including that first-round series. The Lynx could secure their first regular-season sweep of the Storm since 2001 with a win Tuesday.
"I don't know if we really played the way we have to play to beat this team," Storm coach Brian Agler said after Saturday's loss. "Minnesota has proven to be the best team in the league right now. So we're going to have to keep getting better."
Moore was held to 11 points Saturday a week after scoring 30 in a 97-74 home win over Seattle. She's averaging 20.7 points during the Lynx's current six-game winning streak.
"We're not thinking about any streaks," said Rebekkah Brunson, who scored a team-high 19 points Saturday. "I didn't even realize that we had won six in a row. We're just trying to fine-tune ourselves and get ready for the playoffs. We're getting better, fixing the small things we need to, and we're in a pretty good place."
Seattle is fourth in the WNBA in 3-point shooting at 33.8 percent but has gone 10 for 40 in the past two meetings with Minnesota. The Storm have taken 67 3-point shots in the season series compared to 26 by the Lynx.
"Seattle is particularly good at yanking 3s, and at our place (Aug. 31), we were caught in rotation constantly," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said Saturday. "They made extra passes and got any 3-ball they wanted, so I thought tonight, we had a better focus on trying to keep their penetration under control so we could get our rotations."
The Associated Press News Service
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