The Minnesota Lynx put their league-leading six-game winning streak on the line Friday when they travel to Connecticut to play the Sun as the WNBA season gets back into the swing after taking a month-long break for the Rio Olympics.
Minnesota (21-4), which resides a half game behind the Los Angeles Sparks in the Western Conference, has already clinched a berth the new-look WNBA playoffs. The top eight teams, regardless of conference, qualify for the postseason.
The Lynx' remaining goal during the regular season will be to secure one of the top two seeds, giving them a bye to the semifinals of the postseason.
They'll also want to keep their key players rested and healthy for a run at their repeat championship, which would be their fourth title in six years. That shouldn't be too much of a challenge, considering six of their remaining nine games are against teams that are under .500.
The Sun (8-16) are one of those teams but Minnesota will face Connecticut during one of its best runs of the season. Connecticut has won two in a row and five of its past eight games.
"It took a while, but we're really excited about the second half of the season, being 5-3 in our last eight games, and those three losses we had late leads in all of those games," Connecticut coach Curt Miller said. "So we're really excited about how we're playing, but more importantly about the culture that seems to have started with this team."
The Sun will certainly have Minnesota's full attention, thanks to Connecticut's 93-89 home overtime win over the Lynx on July 7. In that victory the Sun received exemplary performances from Alex Bentley (24 points) and Chiney Ogwumike (21 points, seven rebounds) to help secure victory.
Four Minnesota players - Lindsay Whalen, Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles - and coach Cheryl Reeve were part of the United States' gold-medal-winning team in Rio. That means that while most of the league's teams had a month to rest for the final push of the regular season, a third of the Lynx roster did not.