Welcome to the first installment of "Numbers Don't", a series taking a look at a specific matchup, through the lens of statistics. We're starting off with two of the best players in the WNBA: Los Angeles Sparks forward (and two-time MVP) Candace Parker, and Minnesota Lynx forward (and 2014 MVP) Maya Moore.
They're facing off today, in the rubber match; whichever team walks away with the victory moves on to the next round. For the Lynx, the pressure is on, as they were the best team in the WNBA. For the Sparks, it would be a remarkable turnaround from a very, very poor start to the season.
Let's take a look at some numbers.
- Regular Season:
- 20.6 PPG
- 6.7 RBS
- 3.5 AST
- 42% FG
- 30.0 PPG
- 5.5 RBS
- 2.5 AST
- 51% FG
Maya Moore, by every metric, was a better player last year. Her numbers are down across the board; her field goal percentage, for example, is down 6%. However, whatever she lost from last year seems to have reappeared in this contest against the Sparks.
She is massacring the Los Angeles defense; through two games, she's scoring 50% more, and shooting 9% better than she did in the regular season. It is worth noting that it has only been two games, and the playoffs are long, but it is still a good sign.
One potential spot of negativity: for all her statistical success, her Lynx are tied with the Sparks, who qualified for the playoffs with a record way below .500 only because they had to beat out a can of beans and an old piece of junk mail underneath a car seat.
But while that may reflect negatively on the Lynx, it certainly doesn't reflect that way on Moore. Moore is perhaps the only reason the Lynx are still in the playoffs, and will be the biggest factor in how the Lynx perform in the coming rounds, should they, of course, make it that far.
- Regular Season:
- 20.3 PPG
- 10.5 RBS
- 6.5 AST
- 48% FG
- 20.5 PPG
- 9.5 RBS
- 5.0 AST
- 38% FG
Candace Parker missed a good chunk of the regular season, sitting out the first 18 regular season games so that she could rest her body after years and years of constant year-round basketball. After a poor start for the Sparks, Parker jumped back into the race.
Her numbers, as listed above, are incredible; there aren't many players with the skills and brains to average center-like rebounds and point guard-esque assist stats. She was the biggest factor in the team squeaking into the playoffs, and without her, they wouldn't have even come close.
The playoffs, however, has been a different story. She has struggled so far, at least in the efficiency department. Keeping up with and defending Moore probably makes things more difficult for Parker; when you have to pull double-duty as the primary defender and the primary offensive weapon, it can be very, very difficult to keep up. Or, it could be a host of other reasons; any number of variables, really.
However, the fact is (very early in the playoffs) Parker is struggling to score as efficiently as she did in the regular season.
Moore has the edge over Parker right now. She is dominating this matchup, and keeping her team in the hunt for a championship. But Parker has drug her team this far, and is rested, relatively speaking. It's hard to read, statistically speaking, on if the way Parker and Moore are playing will continue trending the way that it is.
Moore could regress back to her regular season numbers, or she could just be fulfilling her actual skill/potential level. Parker could continue to struggle, or she could find her stroke and bury the Lynx under an avalanche of offensive brilliance. It is hard to say this early.
Gun to my head? I'd bet on Parker finding something close to her numbers, should the Sparks advance to the next round of the playoffs. The Lynx are a very good, very tough defensive team; though Moore has been the integral factor lately, Sylvia Fowles is on this team, and is a force of nature in her own right.
But the Sparks still have to win tonight, and that is no easy task. Maya Moore is playing lights out right now, and it's going to be hard for Los Angeles to hold on.