Scouting Report: Lynx vs. Sparks
Game 1 - Western Conference Finals
Web Editorial Associate
Lynx (2-1) vs. Sparks (2-0) - 7 p.m. Target Center
Where to Watch: ESPN 2
Where to Listen: 106.1 FM
After coming out on top of a hard-fought battle with the Seattle Storm that came down to the final shot of the final contest, the Lynx are ready to take on the Los Angeles Sparks for the Western Conference crown and their chance at a second WNBA Title.
The three-game series kicks off tonight at 7 p.m. at Target Center on ESPN2 and BOB 106.1 FM.
The Lynx are coming off an exhilarating 73-72 win in game three of the semifinals over the Storm on Tuesday. Seimone Augustus recorded 21 points and Maya Moore had 20, while Rebekkah Brunson added 16 points (10 in the fourth quarter alone) and nine rebounds. Whalen suffered a wrist injury during the first half but returned to play, and coach Cheryl Reeve said she’ll be ready to go against the Sparks tonight.
“I'm really excited about moving on,” said Augustus after Tuesday’s win. “But we still have a lot of work to do. It's a quick turnaround with a tough team we have to face in L.A.”
The Sparks swept their semifinal round against the San Antonio Silver Stars, defeating them 93-86 at home last Thursday and 101-94 in San Antonio Saturday. The likely duo of Parker and Kristi Toliver lifted them to victory both nights; Parker put up 25 and 32 points as well as grabbing nine rebounds each game, while Toliver had 29 and 23 points.
Regular season series
The Lynx went 2-2 against the Sparks in regular season play, losing their most recent game 92-76 on Sept. 20 out in Los Angeles. With Lindsay Whalen resting and minutes distributed heavily to Minnesota’s reserves, Sparks starters capitalized. Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike each finished with 22 points, and Alana Beard, Kristi Toliver and Jenna O’Hea all scored in double figures. Minnesota was led by Monica Wright’s 19 points and Devereaux Peters’ 17.
Throughout the rest of the series, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore were key for the Lynx offensively, averaging 18.5 and 15.3 points per game, respectively. Candace Parker has scored over 20 points in three of the Sparks’ four matchups with the Lynx this season but was held to only six points during her last visit to Target Center. The Sparks have found other big scorers in Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who’ve recorded 15.5 and 17.5 points per game, respectively, over the series.
Key matchup: Moore vs. Parker
Maya Moore has proven herself this season as one of the Lynx’s top scorers alongside Seimone Augustus. Her 17 first-half points on Tuesday are a testament to her ability to rattle off baskets while her teammates are struggling, and the intangibles she brings to the court (hustle, athleticism, physicality), make her a player that affects many areas of the game.
Candace Parker has been on a tear as of late, scoring upwards of 20 points in her last three regular season games and demanding MVP consideration. Since then, she’s averaged 28.5 points over her first two playoff appearances of the year and pulled down an average 10 rebounds over the last five games. The Lynx know first-hand that containing Parker is not an easy task, but it’s one that will greatly improve their odds at coming out of tonight with a win.
“[The Sparks] have a lot of star power, and it starts with Candace Parker,” Augustus said. “She is the leader of their team.”
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