The 2016 WNBA Finals are officially set.
The defending League Champion Minnesota Lynx will take on the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday afternoon in Game 1 of the Championship best-of-five series.
Many people predicted that the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the WNBA would meet in the Finals, and for good reason. Ranking first and second in assists per game and points allowed per contest, LA and Minnesota proved throughout the season that they are both Title-worthy contenders.
These two uber-talented squads matched up against one another three times during the regular season. The Lynx came out victorious in their two games in Los Angeles, while the Sparks crushed Minnesota inside the Target Center after the Lynx handed LA their first loss of the season.
In order to get prepared for the Finals, let’s take a look into what went right for Minnesota in their wins against the Sparks, and what didn’t go as planned in their loss.
– The Lynx held Los Angeles’ high-paced offense to under 75 points in each of their victories. The majority of the Sparks’ scoring comes from their Big 3: Kristi Toliver, Nneka Ogwumike and walking Hall-of-Famer Candace Parker. Minnesota was able to force these three to take contested shots, and only allowed LA to make 40.5 percent of their shots between the two contests.
– The X factor in this series will most likely be 3-point shooting. If the Lynx are able to shoot efficiently from beyond-the-arc, and, maybe more importantly, shut down Los Angeles from range, they will be in great shape to take home the Championship trophy. The Sparks were only able to make 10 of their 30 3-point attempts in their two regular season losses to the Lynx.
– Four of the best rebounders in the League will be going at it down low on Sunday afternoon and the winner of that battle could very well end up being the winner of the series. Defensive Player of the Year Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson will match up in the paint against Ogwumike and Parker, a must-watch matchup. In their two wins, Minnesota was able to tally a +20 rebounding advantage over the Sparks. If Minnesota’s twin towers are able to control the boards, the Lynx will once again be putting themselves in a great position to win the series.
– LA handed Minnesota their first loss of the season three days after the Lynx dealt the Sparks their first loss of the season. In one of their two losses at home throughout the regular season, Minnesota allowed Los Angeles to hit 11-of-19 shots from deep. Toliver was on fire from beyond-the-arc and went 7-for-11 and finished the game with 25 points and a +21 plus/minus rating. If the Sparks are able to move the ball well and get open looks from 3-point range, the Lynx will have a hard time going bucket-for-bucket against LA’s #1 ranked defense.
– The Sparks were also able to have success in the paint in their win over Minnesota inside the Target Center. Not only did Los Angeles out-rebound Minnesota, they also put up more points in the paint than the defending Champions.
Yes, Ogwumike is this year’s Most Valuable Player, but Minnesota has the DPOY protecting the rim and the Coach of the Year devising the gameplan. If there is any team that can matchup with Los Angeles’ talented front-court, it’s Minnesota.
Be sure to tune-in to ABC or 106.1 BOB FM on Sunday at 2:00 p.m. to catch Game 1 of the WNBA Finals.