The Minnesota Lynx are the reigning WNBA champions, and have already clinched the league’s best record in 2012.
They can tie the franchise record for wins in a single season.
The Lynx enter their final two games of the regular season looking to beat the last-place Phoenix Mercury for a seventh time in a row Friday night.
Minnesota (26-6) owns the best record in the WNBA for a second consecutive season, and is one win shy of equaling its single-season record established in 2011.
The Lynx parlayed last year’s success into a 7-1 playoff record to cruise to their first WNBA championship last year. That run included a two-game sweep of Phoenix (7-25) in the Western Conference finals, but there won’t be a rematch in 2012.
With every spot in the playoffs secured, the Mercury are last in the West and have two games left to avoid their worst season in franchise history.
Phoenix finished 8-26 in 2003.
Minnesota, which will face Seattle in the opening round of the playoffs, may be looking to capitalize on the woeful Mercury in order to rebound from Thursday’s 92-76 defeat to Los Angeles.
The Lynx have won six in a row against Phoenix, including last year’s postseason sweep. They’ve taken all three matchups this season by an average of 18.7 points, including a 78-60 victory in Phoenix on June 15.
Lindsay Whalen had a season-high 29 points in that meeting, but was held to five in a 96-80 victory at home June 27.
It’s unclear if she’ll be available after missing Thursday’s game due to a cold.
If Whalen is rested again, Monica Wright may get another chance to play a more prominent role. She had a season-high 19 points against the Sparks, one shy of her total over the previous three games.
Wright is averaging 13.0 points against Phoenix this season.
The Mercury have been outscored by an average of 18.4 points during a five-game losing streak that continued with Tuesday’s 101-76 defeat at Los Angeles.
“They got a lot of fast-break points on us,” guard/forward DeWanna Bonner said. “You can’t come back on a team like that. It was a tough shooting night for us.”
Bonner, who had 23 points against the Sparks, can’t be blamed for Phoenix’s struggles. She’s averaging 26.3 points over four games, and leads the team with a career-high 21.0 points per game overall.
Guard Alexis Hornbuckle, a member of the Lynx last year, is looking to show improvement after shooting 4 for 12 from the field to finish with nine points Tuesday. She’s totaled 12 points while making 5 of 16 shots - 2 for 7 from beyond the arc - in three season meetings against her former team.