The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks practiced for one last time on Wednesday afternoon before they clash for a final time on Thursday evening.
I think it’s particularly exciting for the players to know that there will be no more practices,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It was a motivation, believe it or not, we said in Game 4, we just wanted to have one more practice together. Whether it truly motivated them to come here and practice, I don’t know, but just the idea that if we were practicing again, that meant that we extended the series.”
With each team exchanging wins in the first four games, the two Western Conference squads got two days off for rest in order to prepare for the winner-take-all Game 5.
“Game 4 was exhausting, every possession was absolutely exhausting,” Reeve said. “I commented following the game that that’s what the game should look like. I don’t know that we’ve gotten that in all four games, in terms of laying it on the line every possession. If you happen to be a player on the floor that wasn’t giving it your all, it would have been really noticeable in that last game. I expect more of the same for Game 5. That’s the way it should be and just pushing one another to the brink of your competitive edge, that’s why it’s fun.”
This Championship series so far has been interesting when looking at the outcomes of each game. We’ve had a buzzer-beater, a dominant victory for both teams, and one back-and-forth battle. One thing is for sure, however, in Game 5, the defending Champions will rely on what they have all season in order to get them to where they are today, defense.
“It’s such a big part of our identity that I think it has to be a big part of the game for us to be successful, so hopefully we can get that done,” Reeve said. “I think both teams are really good defensively. Both teams are really good at taking away one another’s top options, so you’re going to have to find other ways to manufacture opportunities.”
Fortunately or unfortunately for both teams, depending on how you look at it, Game 5’s winner won’t be based on: who has home court advantage, the plays that they run, the color shoes that they wear, or the amount of film that they study. The Lynx and Sparks know each other so well that all it will come down to on Thursday night is who plays the best basketball for 40 minutes.
“These are things that you guys will all write about and it’ll be talked about, and then the ball gets tipped and none of that matters,” Reeve said. “At 7 o’clock tomorrow or whatever time we tip, for however long it takes for the game to be decided, it’s thinking about getting through a screen, it’s thinking about your coverage. I don’t see at that point when the game starts that there are any advantages or disadvantages.”
For the players, gameday can’t come soon enough. But regardless of Game 5’s outcome, the Lynx have had an incredible season and one that will be remembered for years to come.
“It’s been a fun group,” Reeve said. “I think they’ve enjoyed themselves, enjoyed being around one another, whether it’s in practice, shootarounds, travel. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of them, the variety of personalities, and I’m sure they’re pretty excited to get to gameday tomorrow.”