Lynx (1-0) vs. Sparks (0-1) 2:30 p.m. Staples Center
Where to Watch: ABC
Where to Listen: 106.1 FM
Many didnt predict a 17-point margin of victory for the Lynx in their opening matchup against the Sparks in the Western Conference Finals on Thursday, but thats what Minnesota delivered. Opening up a 20-point lead in the second quarter that the Sparks wouldnt be able to touch for the remainder of the game, the Lynx played like defending champions, beating the Sparks 94-77 at Target Center.
They hope to carry that energy with them to Los Angeles today as they take on the Sparks for Game 2 of the best-of-three series at 2:30 p.m.
We played off of our rebounding and defense, Lindsay Whalen said of their Game 1 victory. Our second group came in and did a tremendous job in the first quarter and they really kind of got the spark going.
Taj McWilliams-Franklin agreed that her teams defense was a key factor in getting out to a fast start and maintaining the lead.
I think we came out with an extremely high energy on the defensive end, and it put them back on their heels a little bit, McWilliams-Franklin said. They missed some shots, and we capitalized on some mismatches and exploited some mismatches. And we got a lead that was cushion enough to withstand their run, so I think just a solid defensive effort and sticking to the game plan.
Key matchup: Augustus vs. Beard
Seimone Augustus has been putting up solid numbers this postseason, averaging 19 points over their four playoff games so far. Not that anyone is surprised last years finals MVP, the veteran guard has been a key component of the teams success this season and a franchise hero her entire career. She had 16 points, seven assists and six rebounds against the Sparks on Thursday and is sure to be a focus of L.A.s defensive efforts.
Alana Beard, who also put up 16 points on Thursday, has been a consistent offensive threat for the Sparks in the second half of the season. Averaging 14.3 points per game after the Olympic break during the regular season, shes averaged 17 points per game in postseason play. With teammates like Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver to draw defense, Beard has been a quiet but crucial scorer for her team.
Lindsay Whalen played with a bruised wrist on Thursday, which happened during Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals. Despite the injury, Whalen intends to play the remainder of the postseason, which comes as a relief to her teammates and fans alike.
"Everything that we have told you about Lindsay and everything you know about Lindsay is that she is tough as nails, coach Cheryl Reeve said after their game against L.A. She is in a lot of pain. I was told that in the second day after it happened, which would be today, the swelling would be at its peak.
I'm impressed with her. That is what I told her. I just love the courage that she plays with, and she is just such a good leader. You guys have seen her time and time again."
Champps to hold Lynx viewing party
Champps Americana Sports Bar & Grill in Minnetonka will be hosting a Western Conference Finals viewing party for todays game, complete with prizes and giveaways. Come out and help cheer on Lindsay, Maya and the rest of the Lynx who are just one win away from the WNBA finals. Champps is located at 1641 Plymouth Road in Minnetonka, right off 394 next to Ridgedale Mall. Visit Champps' website for more info and location.
For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Lynx on Twitter.