We are just hours away from tip-off as the Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks will face-off one last time to see who will be crowned as the 2016 WNBA Champions.
The Sparks won Games 1 & 3 while Minnesota was victorious in Games 2 & 4. Having already competed for 160 minutes in this series alone, watching film on one another and preparing in practice for their opposition’s style of play, these two squads know each other almost as well as they do their own teammates.
In Game 5, you can throw out the playbook, scouting report and film, the final game of the 2016 WNBA season will be decided by which team wants it more.
“There are no more X’s and O’s. Heart. Will. Passion. All of that’s going to come together in this game,” Los Angeles guard Alana Beard said.
Besides effort, two categories that will dictate the winner (most likely) are rebounding and turnovers. Minnesota is +30 in rebounding in their wins against LA and only +3 in their two losses.
“Having looked at both teams scoring off of turnovers very well, that’s huge in this series and generally who’s won the rebounding game has won the game, so it’s no secret and everybody knows that,” Lynx forward Maya Moore said. “It’s just a matter of what team is going to go out and get it done.”
The Sparks have also had the turnover advantage in every game this series. Ball security will be a huge key in Game 5, especially in the first 10 minutes. The team that has led after the first quarter has won every game in this year’s series.
“Taking care of the ball,” Lynx center Sylvia Fowles responded when asked what will be the x-factor in Thursday night’s game. “It plays a big part for us to go out and rebound the ball as well. I think me and Rebekkah know what we have to do for our aspect, but I think our guards have been doing a good job this series of crashing the boards and that’s always something that you can appreciate.”
With both teams having had three days to prepare for the biggest game of the year, Game 5 will most definitely be filled with fireworks and passion.
“There will be a lot of energy tomorrow I would guess,” Sparks head coach Brian Agler said after Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve had three days basically. I can tell a huge difference in the middle of a long season when we have one extra day. With that and just the people being anxious to play, I would think both teams would be well-rested.”
These are the type of games that an athlete dreams about when laying in bed at night. 40 minutes of basketball. A sold out arena. Millions watching on TV. Winner take all. Let’s play!
“Because of our preparation and how we’ve approached each game this season, we have the ability to do some great things in situations like this,” Moore said. “Nothing is ever guaranteed, but I think at the end of the day we have enough experience and that understanding of what it takes to have a game where you have no regrets. We know how to strive for perfection on a big stage and how to overcome challenges. We’re looking forward to this challenge again.”
The season Finale will begin at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN 2 and will also be available via radio on 106.1 BOB FM.