The Los Angeles Sparks finished with the best record in the league by an easy five games. Not surprising, they finished with the best record both at home (15-2) and on the road (10-7). The Sparks also have an All-Star at virtually every position, making the midseason transition from coach Michael Cooper to a two-headed coaching system relatively flawless. Their opponent, the Sacramento Monarchs, are a familiar one. These two provided a memorable matchup in the 2003 Western Conference Finals. The veteran Monarchs finished the season at 18-16, but have the experience and the depth to make this a competitive series.

2004 Regular Season: L.A. Sparks 2 - Sacramento Monarchs 2
Some fast facts about the Sparks-Monarchs first-round matchup:

Leslie

Sparks center Lisa Leslie once again put up MVP-caliber numbers, leading the team with 17.6 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. She also led the entire league with 2.88 blocks per game.
The Sparks had a winning record against every Western Conference team except the Monarchs, who won their first two games against L.A. this season before the Sparks evened the series.
Monarchs guard Ticha Penicheiro became the all-time WNBA career assist leader during the 2004 season, finishing with 1,442 and eclipsing the mark held previously held by Teresa Weatherspoon, who also happens to be the all-time career assist leader in the playoffs..
One of the few teams that can match up against Leslie and the Sparks, the Monarchs boast one of the best frontcourts in the game. Yolanda Griffith, DeMya Walker and Tangela Smith combined to average 33.9 points and 15.6 rebounds per game this season.


Penicheiro

June 3, 2004: Monarchs 68, Sparks 51 | Box score

Sparks leaders: Mwadi Mabika (11 pts., 3 reb.)
Monarchs leaders: Yolanda Griffith (20 pts., 7 reb.), Tangela Smith (13 pts., 9 reb.)
NBA TV highlights: 56k | 300k

July 17, 2004: Monarchs 79, Sparks 70 | Box score
Sparks leaders: Lisa Leslie (22 pts., 11 reb.), Tamika Whitmore (11 pts., 6 reb.)
Monarchs leaders: Yolanda Griffith (15 pts., 7 reb.), Ticha Penicheiro (13 pts., 6 asst., 6 reb.)
NBA TV highlights: 56k | 300k

July 29, 2004: Sparks 85, Monarchs 80 (OT) | Box score
Sparks leaders: Mwadi Mabika (24 pts., 7 reb.) Lisa Leslie (17 pts., 11 reb.), Nikki Teasley (19 pts., 4 asst.)
Monarchs leaders: Yolanda Griffith (13 pts., 16 reb.), Kara Lawson (20 pts.), DeMya Walker (16 pts., 8 reb.)

Sept. 12, 2004: Sparks 65, Monarchs 52 | Box score

Sparks leaders: Sparks leaders: Lisa Leslie (23 pts., 6 reb.), Mwadi Mabika (14 pts., 5 reb.), Tamecka Dixon (10 pts., 8 reb.)
Monarchs leaders: Monarchs leaders: Yolanda Griffith (17 pts., 7 reb.)