Stars-Lynx Preview

The Associated Press

Coach Cheryl Reeve knows the Minnesota Lynx have flaws, and she also realizes those issues won't magically be corrected simply because the postseason is starting.

She's hoping her club's playoff experience will factor in, though, as the Lynx begin their quest for a fourth consecutive WNBA finals appearance and second straight championship with Thursday night's opener of a best-of-three series with the visiting San Antonio Stars.

Minnesota (25-9) finished four games behind league-best Phoenix in the Western Conference and is the No. 2 seed. It finished the regular season by ending a three-game losing streak with Saturday's 80-63 victory over Tulsa.

The Lynx haven't been playing their best basketball as they prepare to defend their title, and they trailed in the fourth quarter before going on a 19-0 run.

"We don't subscribe to that notion that the slate is wiped clean and it's 0-0 and it's a new season," Reeve told the team's official website. "It's true from a record standpoint, but it's not true from an identity standpoint. You can't change who you are. You can't suddenly become a great offensive team if you're not. You can't suddenly become a great defensive team if you're not.

"We take a great deal of comfort in knowing that we know what it takes to win games. We believe we're the best team in the league and we know that we've got to back it up with our play."

Minnesota certainly has one of the best players in the league in Maya Moore, who won her first scoring title with an average of 23.9 points - 3.8 more than anyone. She helped the Lynx rank second in scoring at 81.7 points per contest, but she's more concerned with how they'll fare at the other end of the floor.

"We know if we play defense to the best of our abilities, we can be as good as we want to be," Moore said. "That's really our main focus and being connected and disciplined."

Minnesota, seeking to become the first team to make four straight WNBA finals appearances since the Houston Comets won the league's first four titles from 1997-2000, won the first four meetings with San Antonio before being routed by the Stars 92-76 on Friday.

San Antonio (16-18) heads into the postseason on a three-game winning streak after beating Chicago 84-72 on Sunday to secure the West's No. 3 seed.

''What I like is that I feel we've got a little rhythm going into the playoffs, we'll take some time and get ready,'' coach Dan Hughes. ''But they're just awfully good. Minnesota is an exceptional basketball team.''

The Stars also are looking to extend the career of 16-year veteran Becky Hammon, who will retire at season's end and take an assistant coaching job with the NBA's Spurs.

Hammon doesn't want that to be the team's focus, though.

''We've been playing well this last week or so and we've been playing solid basketball going into the playoffs,'' Hammon said. ''I think that's the bigger picture.''

Game 2 will be Saturday in San Antonio.

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