Wrapping up their 20th Anniversary season, the WNBA Finals matchup is set: the reigning WNBA champion Minnesota Lynx (28-6) versus the Los Angeles Sparks (26-8). Both hailing from the Western Conference, this series is sure to be must-see competition as the Finals kick off on Sunday, October 9th at 3pm ET.
But in case your attention has been preoccupied with the start of professional and college football seasons, or even Major League Baseball, allow me to catch you up. This year’s WNBA postseason greatly differed from years past. The league chose to forgo playoffs divided by the conference, and rather allow the top eight teams by overall winning percentage to go forth in the postseason. The first and second rounds were single-elimination games, which intensified the play, and the top two teams had an automatic bye round.
Since this best-of-five Finals series literally spotlights the two best teams in the league—thanks to the new playoff format—we can expect aggressive, urgent, and highly-intensified play from both teams. Besides featuring veteran superstars like Maya Moore (Lynx), Seimone Augustus (Lynx), and Candace Parker (Sparks), this matchup includes: the league Most Valuable Player Nneka Ogwumike (Sparks), Sixth Woman of the Year Jantel Lavender (Sparks), Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles (Lynx), and Coach of the Year Cheryl Reeve (Lynx).
So, will the Lynx become back-to-back Finals Champs? Or do the Sparks have more to prove?
From an experience perspective, this is the Lynx fifth Finals appearance in the last six seasons, having won three of them (2011, 2013, 2015). Whereas for the Sparks, this is their first trip to the championship since winning it in 2002. Though numbers never lie, even statistically it’s hard to determine who will really win it all.
Between the two in the regular season, offensively the Lynx led in points per game averaging 85.8 while the Sparks averaged 83.0. But looking at their shooting percentages, the Sparks were better since they shot 48.7 in field goals and 37.5 in 3-pointers, while the Lynx shot 47.1 in field goals and 33.7 in 3-pointers. Defensively, they were both neck-and-neck with points allowed, the Sparks 75.9 and the Lynx 77.0. But the Lynx hit the backboard a little more averaging 26.2 defensive rebounds compared to the Sparks’ 24.8. For the playoff round, the Lynx swept the Phoenix Mercury while the Sparks beat the Chicago Sky 3-1.
As much as I want to pull for the underdogs, I’m predicting that this series will go to five games with the Lynx being crowned the Champs…again! I am a defensive minded sports fan and the Lynx have shown great defense throughout the season. They also have a solid group of returning players, including Augustus, Moore, and Lindsay Whalen from the previous three Lynx championships. I believe that veteran leadership will help direct and support this team. Plus, having home court advantage is always great, especially in a win or go home situation.
For more of Jordan’s take, check out her blog The Watter Girl, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram @thewattergirl!