Minneapolis, MN — Same squads, different outcome.
It’s not 2016 anymore, and the Los Angeles Sparks are no longer the reigning WNBA Champs. The time of the Minnesota Lynx has come once again and no one could argue how much they deserved their record-tying fourth WNBA championship after their Game 5 performance.
Minnesota came out with an air of authority putting seven points on the board before the Sparks seemed to realize what had happened. The Lynx were lighting up the court with pick-pocketed steals and sneak-attack passes through the lane. They stretched the lead to 11 points at one time, before Los Angeles decided to pick up the pace.
With each pressing second the intensity level from both teams noticeably increased. No loose ball went astray without a fight; every play was a clash of bodies trying to get the ball through the hoop at no one’s expense. Minnesota guard Lindsay Whalen even dove through mid-air to beat her Sparks’ opponent to the ball.
Minnesota head coach Cheryl Reeve came into this game knowing this wasn’t going to be handed to them, and spoke about how this game was literally wire-to-wire.
“We knew we were in for a battle, both teams don’t mind playing on the road, I mean look at this environment,” Reeve said. “At the end of the day it’s players like Lindsay Whalen who has a will to win that’s second to none. Some of the plays, diving on the floor for a loose ball, that’s the stuff that we talk about.
“Everybody wants to talk about who scores, but it’s those plays and those moments that win a game for you.”
Both teams were ready to rally coming out after halftime. The game was back and forth each possession, and Candace Parker made some big plays to keep the Sparks within in a four-point range most of the contest. But Minnesota, with the championship square in their sights, refused to relinquish their lead.
Every time the Sparks stretched within reach of the Lynx, someone would stoke the Minnesota fire and extend the lead larger.
The Lynx’s Sylvia Fowles was a key to this strategy, making three-point plays inside the paint precisely when needed, sending the crowd into a frenzy. Rebekkah Brunson followed suit, creating her own three-point play to keep the crowd going.
Home court advantage was unquestionably a major factor for Minnesota, something that guard Maya Moore embraced.
“Unbelievable. The grey, matching our uniforms, that was sweet,” Moore said. “It’s just deafening out there it’s so loud. Whenever we did something great, even to start the game, we could just feel the energy and it helped us.”
“It absolutely helped us embrace the moment just to be able to finish it here and people to show up the way they did, shows that they don’t take us for granted.”
Every starter on the Lynx scored double-digits and no one seemed to have an off game. The Sparks competed and put up a worthy fight, coming within three points with 30 seconds left in the game. However, the Lynx held on, refusing to give up the title for a second consecutive year in front of their home fans.
With an 85-76 win over the Sparks, the Minnesota Lynx tied the defunct Houston Comets’ record for championships with their fourth in the last seven seasons. The win proved to everyone what the Lynx had shown all season, this is their year and this title belonged to them.
After the game, an ecstatic Moore made an emphatic statement regarding Minnesota’s status as the best team in the WNBA.
“I’m just over the top excited and happy of how we did it and just the way we did it,” Moore said. “No questions, the issue was clear that we were the best team this year.”