Minneapolis, MN — There was not much that separated the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks heading into the 2017 WNBA championship game. An unparalleled rivalry – as shown in the combined score of 908-908 since Game 1 of last year’s Finals between the two squads.
The “better” team wasn’t going to win, because technically, there was no better team. The better team on October 4, 2017 form 8:00-9:30 p.m. ET was going to win.
The first quarter in the previous four games seemed to be pretty indicative of which team would finish on top. But even so, neither team was going away – and that storyline also held true tonight. Minnesota’s Rebekkah Brunson had eight early points in the first quarter, while the Lynx held LA to two less than that as a team.
Candace Parker, in typical Candace Parker fashion, helped cut the Sparks’ early 11-point deficit to two after draining a turn around jumper at the first period buzzer. The Sparks, most definitely, were not going away despite a rambunctious (not to mention sell-out) Minnesota crowd. But looking at the first-half stat sheet, the Lynx owned the first 20 minutes, particularly feasting off second chance points.
2017 WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles finished with a record-setting 20 rebounds alone. After losing last year’s championship because of rebounding, she wasn’t going to relive a moment like that in 2017.
The Lynx go up, Sparks come back within single digits. The Lynx go up, Sparks make it exciting again. As good of a game as it was, there never seemed to be a time where it looked like Minnesota was going to lose. Los Angeles’ Chelsea Gray caught fire late, but even then, the Lynx had answers.
Minnesota never gave LA too much hope, other than maybe leading by just four points heading into the final period. And with six minutes left. And by less than four points with 30 seconds left. A game not worth predicting the outcome, truly.
All five starters for Minnesota finished in double-figures, which played an integral role in the franchises fourth championship in a seven-year span. But the true x-factors for this game were Lindsay Whalen and Brunson (mad props to the crowd, too).
Whalen bringing all the juice, and Brunson setting the tone from the get-go and carrying that into the fourth quarter. Moore and Fowles were steady forces all series long, the rest surely followed suit in Game 5.
“We baited them, made them think they had a chance, then ripped it right from them,” head coach Cheryl Reeve said.
That’ll do Coach Reeve, that’ll do.