The Minnesota Lynx have already secured their spot in the postseason, but coach Cheryl Reeve said they are looking past that.
However, there’s a good chance the defending WNBA champions have looked back at what happened in their last game in Seattle.
The Lynx go for a fifth straight victory Tuesday night when the Storm try to avoid back-to-back home losses for the first time in three seasons.
Led by Maya Moore’s 22 points, 10 rebounds, six assists and four steals, Minnesota (17-4) clinched a playoff spot at the earliest point in franchise history with Sunday’s 83-59 win over Tulsa.
“(Making the playoffs) means absolutely nothing to us. That’s not the mission,” Reeve said. “We know it’s part of the process.”
The Lynx have plenty of reason to stay focused as San Antonio and Los Angeles - the league’s two hottest teams - are on their heels for the Western Conference lead. Minnesota can leave Seattle with at least a 1 1/2-game edge in that race if it defeats the Storm for the third time in 2012.
The Lynx, though, had their league-record 10-0 start snapped with a 65-62 loss at Seattle on June 17 in the teams’ most recent meeting.
The Storm (10-11) could have a hard time repeating that effort with their depleted roster. Seattle had eight players available in Saturday’s 82-71 home loss to the Sparks.
“Honestly, respectfully to our team I don’t want to even talk about being short-handed because that disrespects the people in the locker room,” said coach Brian Agler, whose team last dropped two in a row at KeyArena on July 12 and 15, 2009.
Backup point guard Tanisha Wright had a nice effort with 21 points, but the Storm would probably be better off if Sue Bird returned - she sat out Saturday with a stomach flu - to match up with U.S. Olympic teammate Lindsay Whalen.
Whalen has averaged 7.0 assists during Minnesota’s four-game win streak and is second in the league with 5.5 per game. Bird is next at 5.4.
The Lynx likely won’t have to face center Lauren Jackson, who has yet to play for the Storm this season after training with the Australian team that won bronze in London. The three-time MVP was scheduled to return to Seattle on Monday and it’s uncertain when she’ll make her season debut.
“I’m so excited to finally get to meet her. The team is ready for her to be back,” rookie Shekinna Stricklen said Saturday after Seattle was outrebounded by 12. “We’re excited to have another post player with size.”
Having 6-foot-4 center Ann Wauters could help the Storm, who are among the league’s worst with 30.4 rebounds per game, but it’s uncertain when she’ll return after missing the last seven games with an Achilles’ injury.
Even with Wauters in the lineup, the Lynx outrebounded the Storm by an average of 9.3 in the first three matchups of 2012.
Minnesota, though, is scoring 75.0 points per game in those contests - 12.0 less than its league-leading average.
Moore has a team-best 45 points in those games.