The Minnesota Lynx can clinch home court advantage throughout the playoffs on Friday night at the Target Center with a victory over the New York Liberty, but the Liberty also have a magic number of one. With a win Friday night, the Liberty guarantee a record of no worse than 18-16. The best the Chicago Sky can do is 18-16, and the Liberty hold a 3-2 head-to-head advantage over the Sky. The Liberty are in the playoffs with a win Friday.
Even looking beyond that game, I am interested to see the motivation level and the substitution patterns of the Lynx in the remaining four games. In particular, the Lynx end the regular season on the road in Phoenix, probably with nothing to play for, other than staying healthy and primed for the playoffs. On the other hand, it is very likely that Phoenix will be playing for home court advantage in their semi-final series against (presumably) the Seattle Storm. That all adds up to a difficult road game scenario.
The Lynx did what they had to do -- and not much more -- to win last night against the Washington Mystics. Plenty of minutes for Wiggins, Wright, Adair, and Harris. Mama Taj dove for a loose ball at mid-court last night, and it pointed out how committed she is to this team's success and at the same time how essential Adair and Harris will be to this team's playoff success. I still worry that they are too tentative on both ends, but they're young and improving right before our eyes. The next four games will be mini-camp for #1 and #6.
After wrapping up home court, what is left to play for? Is a possible record of 28-6 an adequate motivation? That would tie last year's Seattle Storm (and others?) for most ever regular season wins. It calls to mind the decisions facing the 2009 Indianapolis Colts. Do we go for the great record, a completely abstract goal, and risk injury to our key players right before the really important games?
If there must be a Game 5 of the WNBA Finals, I hope it is in Minneapolis, Minnesota! Until then, I hope all 11 Lynx are healthy and highly motivated.