Two years ago, the Seattle Storm were the team to roll through the playoffs and win a title in dominating fashion.
Now, they're desperately trying to prevent another masterful Minnesota Lynx run.
The Lynx look to win their eighth straight postseason game and eliminate the Storm in Game 2 of this best-of-three series Sunday night in Seattle.
The Storm didn't lose a game in the 2010 playoffs, winning seven in a row after a 28-6 regular season to capture the franchise's second WNBA championship.
This year has been an entirely different experience. With three-time league MVP Lauren Jackson missing much of the season and struggling in limited action, Seattle finished under .500 and settled for the No. 4 seed in the Western Conference.
That earned the Storm a first-round matchup with the reigning WNBA champion Lynx, who lost only one of their eight playoff games last year, winning the last six. Seattle hung tough on the road Friday in Game 1 but never led in a 78-70 loss.
"I thought we did some good things, but I don't think we did enough good things," Storm coach Brian Agler said. "So that being said, we just need to play better."
Jackson had 12 points, but only one after halftime as the Lynx changed up their defensive strategy.
"I was not getting the looks I was getting in the first half. That was obvious," Jackson said. "We definitely have to look at that and see how we are going to change that for the next game."
Seattle, which has lost in the first round of six of the past seven postseasons but hasn't been swept since 2007, also has to figure out how to bottle up Minnesota's myriad of offensive options.
Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore were the Lynx's top scorers during the season and both were productive in Game 1, combining for 35 points on 13-of-26 shooting, but Lindsay Whalen led the team with 20 points and six assists.
"Of course we know they're going to pay a lot of attention to Seimone and Maya, they're great shooters and great players," Whalen said. "We all know we have to step it up and make plays as well."
Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve didn't seem thrilled with her team's offensive performance, although the Lynx shot 46.4 percent against a stingy Seattle defense that led the WNBA at 39.1 during the regular season. The Storm also limited opponents to a league-low 71.6 points per game.
The Lynx struggled to score in a 65-62 loss at Seattle on June 17 - their first defeat of 2012 following 10 straight victories - but they were much better in an 86-73 win in their other visit Aug. 21.
Augustus scored a game-high 22 points in that contest and had 19 on Friday, but Reeve said she "played like an MVP" in large part because of her defense. The coach put Augustus on Seattle star Sue Bird, who finished with eight points and five turnovers.
"Somehow our players don't get recognized for MVP performances," Reeve said. "This is that time of year when everyone else goes for the consolation prizes and we go for the big one."
The winner of this series will face Los Angeles in the West finals.
- Minnesota Lynx
- Seattle Storm
- Lauren Jackson