The Minnesota Lynx are eager to prove to one of the league's newest stars why they should be considered the top team of the Western Conference.
Minnesota will seek to keep Brittney Griner from earning her first WNBA win when the Phoenix Mercury visit Thursday night.
Having won the past two West titles, the Lynx are looking to get back to the WNBA finals and atone for last season's defeat to Indiana. The 2011 champs got their title quest off to a strong start with a 90-74 home victory over Connecticut on Saturday.
The last team to open their season, the Lynx (1-0) showed they were excited to get started by shooting 50.0 percent and holding the Sun to 35.9 while blocking eight shots.
"We were kind of liked caged animals, waiting to get unleashed," said forward Maya Moore, who had a team-leading 26 points. "When we're aggressive and we're connected like that, I know I play better and we all do."
Minnesota will try to take that energy into a matchup with Griner and the winless Mercury (0-2).
The 6-foot-2 Janel McCarville will have the primary task of guarding the 6-8 Griner. The tallest player on Minnesota's roster is 6-5 Amber Harris.
"We are going to make her work for everything she gets," McCarville told the team's website. "She's got me on height, but I'm a little stronger than her. I've got to limit her rebounding as much as possible.
"I think she's still feeling her way in. I'm saying that as a fan. She's good but I think she can be great in this league. At this point, it's just making things as difficult as possible for her."
After dunking twice and scoring 17 points in her WNBA debut, Griner had another 17 points and one waved-off dunk Sunday in Seattle but was again plagued by foul trouble in a 75-72 defeat.
Griner drew three fouls in the third quarter, one flagrant, then got a technical when she spiked the ball in frustration late in the game. Star guard Diana Taurasi also had to deal with foul trouble and finished with 10 points after scoring 18 in a 102-80 loss to Chicago on May 27.
"A loss is a loss," Griner said. "It's not easy."
With Taurasi and Candice Dupree injured for much of the year, the Lynx won all four of last season's meetings against the 7-27 Mercury by an average of 19.8 points. Minnesota has also claimed the last seven matchups, including a two-game sweep in the 2011 conference finals.
"We want to play against great players like Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner and see what all the buzz is about," said guard/forward Seimone Augustus, who had 20 points Saturday. "It's great that we have them on our court, so we'll have the momentum on our side."
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