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2014 WNBA Western Conference Finals Preview

From The Sports Network

(SportsNetwork.com) - The top teams in the WNBA will meet for the Western Conference title, as the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx battle in what should be a hotly contested best-of-three series.

Minnesota is trying for its second straight WNBA championship and third in four years. The Lynx are also bidding to become the first team to reach four straight WNBA Finals since Houston won the first four titles from 1997-2000. Phoenix hasn't been to the championship series since 2009 when the Mercury won their second title in a three-year span.

The Mercury and Lynx were the only teams to reach 20 wins during the regular season and both swept their respective conference semifinal matchups, as Phoenix dispatched Los Angeles and Minnesota eliminated San Antonio.

It was a banner season for the Mercury, who set a WNBA record with 29 victories and reeled off 16 straight wins to establish a franchise mark. The Lynx stayed close, winning 25 games behind the league's MVP, Maya Moore.

The Mercury won three of the four regular-season meetings with the Lynx. The first two wins came in June -- 80-72 and 92-79 in a three-day span -- and kick-started Phoenix's lengthy winning streak. The run ended on July 31, not surprisingly, in Minneapolis.

Moore scored 20 points in the Lynx's 75-67 triumph at the Target Center, which was part of Minnesota's 11-game winning streak. Where did that run end? In Phoenix, of course, on Aug. 9 in an 82-80 Mercury victory.

While Moore scored 30 points in that most recent matchup, MVP runner-up Diana Taurasi led Phoenix with 24 points and hit the go-ahead shot before Brittney Griner -- the league's top defensive player -- blocked Lindsay Whalen's layup attempt at the buzzer to seal the Phoenix win.

This series could feature that kind of excitement throughout.

Minnesota is more than just, well, Moore. Whalen and Seimone Augustus make up a dynamic backcourt, while Rebekkah Brunson and Janel McCarville give the Lynx a veteran interior force that will try to make it difficult for Griner.

The inside-outside duo of Griner and Taurasi has been spectacular all season, but forwards Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree both scored in double-figures to give the Mercury some balance.

With no shortage of star power, many believe this series could serve as the de facto championship round, although either Chicago or Indiana will have say in that down the road.

08/29 15:35:03 ET