Can anyone stop L.A.? That question is becoming an annual theme this time of year. Minnesota certainly put a scare into the two-time defending champs by stealing Game 1 of their first-round series, but the Sparks bounced back and won the next two games convincingly. Sacramento, meanwhile, knocked Houston out of the postseason on Ticha Penicheiro's last-second shot. Now, can the Monarchs eliminate the only other champion in WNBA history? If the regular season is any indication, then Sacto has a 50-50 shot.

2003 Regular Season: Los Angeles Sparks 2 - Sacramento Monarchs 2
Some fast facts about the Sparks-Monarchs Western Finals matchup:

Leslie
The Monarchs have undergone an amazing turnaround under coach John Whisenant, as they started the season 7-11, but then went 12-4 under Whisenant to make the playoffs.
Lisa Leslie played in three of L.A.'s four games against Sacramento this season. The Sparks were 2-1 in those games.
Other than Nikki Teasley, all of the Sparks' starters are shooting better from the field in the playoffs than they did in the regular season.
Despite hitting the game-winner against Houston, Ticha Penicheiro struggled (2.3 ppg, 3.7 apg) in Sacramento's first-round series. Yolanda Griffith, meanwhile, was a standout (21.3 ppg, 11.7 rpg).

Penicheiro

June 5, 2003: Sparks 63, Monarchs 61 | Box score

Sparks leaders: Tamecka Dixon (15 pts.), Mwadi Mabika (15 pts.), Lisa Leslie (10 pts., 12 reb.), DeLisha Milton (4 pts., 5 asst.)
Monarchs leaders: DeMya Walker (15 pts.), Yolanda Griffith (6 pts., 7 reb.), Ticha Penicheiro (11 pts., 9 asst.)

June 7, 2003: Sparks 79, Monarchs 61 | Box score
Sparks leaders: Lisa Leslie (21 pts., 13 reb.), Nikki Teasley (8 pts., 7 asst.)
Monarchs leaders: Tangela Smith (12 pts., 11 reb.), Lady Grooms (4 pts., 3 asst.)

June 28, 2003: Monarchs 69, Sparks 60 | Box score
Sparks leaders: Tamecka Dixon (20 pts., 4 asst.), DeLisha Milton (13 pts., 9 reb.)
Monarchs leaders: Yolanda Griffith (24 pts., 10 reb.), Ticha Penicheiro (7 pts., 5 asst.)

July 31, 2003: Monarchs 83, Sparks 75 | Box score
Sparks leaders: Nikki Teasley (23 pts., 8 reb., 9 asst.)
Monarchs leaders: Kara Lawson (24 pts.), Yolanda Griffith (10 pts., 7 reb.), Tangela Smith (10 pts., 7 reb.), Ticha Penicheiro (10 pts., 5 asst.)

(Photo credits: Leslie and Penicheiro by Lisa Blumenfeld/NBAE/Getty Images)