Web Editorial Associate
The stage is set.
The matchup many around the WNBA wanted all season long, the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks will square off in the 2017 WNBA Finals.
The showdown on the WNBA’s biggest stage will happen for the second straight season. The Lynx and Sparks faced off in last years WNBA Finals, with Los Angeles edging Minnesota in five games.
“I think that, for the last couple of years, our two teams have been the best teams. Last year was obviously an incredible series and came down to the wire, so it should be a good one coming up,” Lynx guard Lindsay Whalen said. “It’s two great teams, a lot of great players and two great coaches. . . This is what you play for and why you want to be in these types of series because it’s that much fun and it’s that kind of competition.”
The best-of-five series will kick off in Game 1 at 2:30 p.m. (CT) on Sunday at Williams Arena. Since the Lynx are the top seed, Games 1, 2 and 5 (if necessary) will be played in Minneapolis during the series. The Sparks, the No. 2 seed, will host Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) in Los Angeles.
“We are definitely looking forward to it. Different team on both ends, but we are definitely looking forward to the matchup,” Sylvia Fowles said. “We don’t think about revenge. I think that was last year and I think we are way past that. But at the same time, you can’t forget last year either. We are just going to worry about one game at a time.”
During the regular season and for the start of the playoffs, Minnesota and Los Angeles have both been the top two teams in the league.
“We are always glad to have another crack at the Sparks, even if last year didn’t happen. The way that we ended the season, obviously we had a bitter taste in our mouth and now we have a chance to kind of get some revenge.”
“LA is a very good team. We’re not going in saying maybe, we’re going saying we’re going to win. They are not coming in saying they’ll drop two games here and hopefully they can get back in it at the STAPLES Center, they want to come in and win. It’s the same way, we both want to win.”
The rematch is set. Lynx and Sparks round two begins Sunday in Minneapolis.
“It’s the two best teams in the league. We think we are a darn good basketball team, we suspect that they think they are a darn good basketball team,” Lynx head coach Cheryl Reeve said. “We expect to win, they expect to win. That’s going to make it a great series.”
Lynx Want ‘Every Space Filled’ At Williams Arena
The Lynx kicked off postseason play at Williams Arena on the campus of the University of Minnesota in the semifinal round against the Washington Mystics.
And to say that the Minnesota fans provided a homecourt advantage would be an understatement.
“The last game that we played against the Mystics at home, it was just crazy. It was loud to the point where we couldn’t hear play calls, we could only see the visuals because that’s really the only thing we could do,” Augustus said. “That’s the atmosphere we need in order to have that advantage. When LA gets in here and they have to figure out what play calls to call and stuff like that, I know the Barn is going to be rocking and we’ll be well prepared because we just went through that.”
The Lynx don’t just want that same noise and advantage again in the WNBA Finals. They want even more.
“Be there. Get out to the Barn. We need every space filled. If we can do that, and we can play the basketball that we are capable of, we have a good chance of winning this thing. We worked hard during the regular season to have homecourt advantage. Here we are, we earned it and we think it’s going to come into play,” Reeve said. “But only if our fans show up. . . This is probably the opportunity for a real homecourt advantage. We had homecourt advantage last year and we lost two times, in Game 1 and Game 5. That cannot happen again. We’re going to do our part in terms of x’s and o’s and hopefully the players will bring it.
“This is going to be one of those things that will be a community championship. We need everybody involved. We need you (the media) coming out and covering it and we need our fans out there to support us.”
For the Lynx, their fans have been a big part of the team during this impressive seven-year run, a run that has led to six WNBA Finals appearances and three WNBA titles.
“They are our sixth man. I know a lot of teams can vouge for that, but I can definitely say that our fans, when things aren’t going our way are out there screaming and hollering for us to get it done,” Fowles said. “They always manage to get us through it. . . Fans, make sure you all come out and support.”
There’s no doubting that Lynx fans are one of a kind. And the team knows they will come out in full force during the WNBA Finals at Williams Arena.
“I’m waiting for those 14,000 (fans), it would be even better if we can get that,” Whalen said. “It was good in the semifinals, the people who were there were great and it was loud, but there are even a couple more levels it can get to. Hopefully that happens.”