Scouting Report | Minnesota at Los Angeles

9:00 p.m., Staples Center

Where to Watch: ESPN 2

Where to Listen: 106.1 BOB FM

The top two teams in the WNBA will square off on late Tuesday evening as the 24-5 Lynx travel to Los Angeles to take on the 24-5 Sparks.

With only five games left in the season, Tuesday night’s game could be the deciding factor as to which team goes into the playoffs as the #1 seed.

The season series is tied 1-1 as Minnesota defeated LA on the road, and the Sparks came to the Target Center and escaped with a victory. When it comes to the new playoff format, having the first overall seed versus the second could mean a trip to the Finals with home court advantage, or an early exit in the Semi-Finals.

Get your blankets and bowl of ice cream ready as this one will be going late into the night. Before preparing your late night snack, however, don’t forget to consider these facts when it comes to this epic matchup:

– Los Angeles and Minnesota rank first and second in the league respectively in assists per game and points allowed per game. Based off of those two statistical categories, it’s safe to say that on Tuesday night you will see some fantastic ball movement and stellar defensive play.

– One stat that could play a major key in tonight’s game is rebounding. The defending WNBA Champion Lynx are third in the league in rebounds per game (35.9), while the Sparks sit at 10th, hauling in 31.8 boards per contest. If Fowles and Brunson are able to control the glass and make their presence felt down low, Tuesday night could be a long game for Nneka Ogwumike and company.

– Los Angeles has been somewhat inconsistent over the past 10 games and since the Olympic break as they’ve gone 6-4 since July 13th. Minnesota on the other hand is 9-1 in that period and has looked better and better in every game since coming home from Brazil.

– Both teams average putting up at least 84 points per game. In their two previous matchups against one another, however, the scores were: 72-69 (Minnesota won) and 94-76 (Los Angeles won).

Coming Off Of:

The two talented teams won their last games against high-quality opponents.

LA relied on their three-headed monster: Ogwumike, Candace Parker and Kristi Toliver to carry them past the Indiana Fever on Sunday, as those three combined for 58 points, 12 boards, 15 assists and three steals. As a team, the Sparks shot 57 percent from the field.

In similar fashion to Los Angeles, Minnesota’s star-studded front-court: Sylvia Fowles, Maya Moore and Rebekkah Brunson absolutely dominated Connecticut on Sunday night, combining for 55 points, 18 rebounds, five assists and six steals. The Lynx put in 53.7 percent of their shots which ended up being exactly 10 percentage points higher than the Suns’.

Last Matchup: 

These two squads haven’t looked across the court from one another in over 70 days. Los Angeles came to town on June 24th and overwhelmed the home team with their onslaught from 3-point range and snapped the Lynx’ 13-game win streak in a 94-76 victory. The Sparks went 11-for-19 from beyond-the-arc and pulled away in what was a competitive game until the fourth quarter, outscoring the Lynx 29-17 in the final period of play.

The Sparks’ big three were able to control and Minnesota’s big trio and outscored them 59-37.

In order to come out with a victory on Tuesday night, the Lynx won’t necessarily have to win the ‘big three matchup,’ but they will need to force other people to score for LA other than their stars. The Lynx will need to use their depth to their advantage and stay strong on the boards, not allowing Parker or Ogwumike to haul in offensive boards.

Projected Starters:

MIN: G- Whalen, G- Augustus, F- Moore, F- Brunson, C- Fowles

LA: G- Beard, G- Toliver, F- Carson, F- Ogwumike, C- Parker