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Lynx look to continue hot start to 2017 season

Lynx edge Wings late (0:46)
Seimone Augustus hits the go-ahead shot with 4.3 seconds to go as Minnesota tops Dallas 89-87. (0:46)

If someone had asked in May 2007 which franchise — Connecticut or Minnesota — would win three championships in the next decade, you wouldn’t have hesitated before picking the Sun.

After all, they finished first in the Eastern Conference in 2004, ’05 and ’06. They reached the WNBA Finals the first two of those seasons, losing to Seattle and Sacramento, respectively.

By contrast, at that point, the Lynx had won just one playoff game — in 2003 — and that’s all they would win in the postseason over the franchise’s first 12 years.

Of course, we all know what happened: Minnesota turned out to be the model franchise of the WNBA, winning league titles in 2011, ’13 and ’15, and also advancing to the Finals in 2012 and 2016. Connecticut fired coach Mike Thibault after the 2012 season, and hasn’t made the playoffs since.

And as the Lynx and Sun head into their meeting Tuesday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET), at least so far, things are status quo. Minnesota is off to a 3-0 start, while Connecticut is 0-2. San Antonio is the only other team that doesn’t have a victory yet.

The Sun have been trying to find themselves for a few years now, and it’s more difficult this season with post player Chiney Ogwumike out with an Achilles’ injury. Connecticut has a lot of young talent; three of the Sun’s four leading scorers — Morgan Tuck, Courtney Williams and Jonquel Jones — are age 23 and in their second WNBA season. Whether the Sun can put things together well enough for a playoff run is another question.

The Lynx, by contrast, are not young, but they seem kind of ageless. As has been the case the last six seasons, Minnesota has its core four — Seimone Augustus, Maya Moore, Lindsay Whalen and Rebekkah Brunson — together. But the player who joined the Lynx via trade in 2015 has been their most dominant player so far this season.

That’s center Sylvia Fowles, who is averaging 21.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots. With Moore having a bit of a slow start, shooting just 29.8 percent from the field, Fowles’ play has kept the Lynx from missing a beat.

Fowles is shooting 57.5 percent, and she was particularly key in Minnesota’s 89-87 victory at Dallas on Saturday. Fowles had 27 points and 13 rebounds against the Wings.

Even as well as the Lynx know each other, it still takes a few games for them to really feel they are in sync. But they are already getting pretty close.

“It does take some time,” Whalen said. “We’ve been playing together for a lot of years, but the more time we have together, you’ll see it continue to jell. That’s how every season is.

“We obviously have an advantage of being together a long time, but there are still those attention-to-detail things, running through the plays, and making different reads that are big factors in the game. We continue to work on them on a daily basis.”

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