Lynx open season as favorite to win

Published 8:04 am Friday, May 18, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS  — The Minnesota Lynx rolled through the regular season a year ago, then kept on cruising through the playoffs to win the club’s first WNBA championship.

The bad news for the rest of the league is they’ve got nearly everyone back and open the new season this weekend as the favorites to win again.

“I do think Minnesota is the team to beat,” Seattle veteran Katie Smith said on a conference call. “They’re the defending champs. They didn’t lose anything, and they still look very good.”

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The Lynx lost consecutive games just once while putting up a 27-7 record, and then went 7-1 in the playoffs. With just two new faces, they return with the same starting lineup and most of their key reserves.

Now, Minnesota will be trying to become the first team to win consecutive titles since Los Angeles in 2001-02. Houston won the league’s first four titles from 1997-2000. Detroit (2003, ‘06, ‘08), Seattle (2004, ‘10) and Phoenix (2007, ‘09) have also won multiple titles.

“This is a new season, new challenges that we’re going to have to embrace,” said Minnesota’s reigning rookie of the year, Maya Moore. “One of the advantages we have this year is nine people coming back. … So we have that experience from last year, that familiarity with each other.”

The season tips off tonight when Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks visit Smith, Sue Bird and the Storm. There’s four more games on Saturday, and Minnesota opens at home against Phoenix on Sunday.