The WNBA Finals have come to the same place they were one year ago. There will be a Game 5, in Minnesota, winner takes all in this heck of a rematch. For the Linx, it is a chance to redeem themselves for the controversial Game 5 win for the Sparks last year. For LA, it is a chance to repeat as champions, but they will have to win on the road again in order to do it.
Game 1 saw the Sparks get out to a 28-2 lead on the strength of their fast and aggressive start. That lead would slowly dwindle and late in the fourth quarter, the Lynx would take the lead. it was 84-83 with 6.5 to play and the Sparks were trying to avoid losing a HUGE game after having such a big lead. So with one play for the win, head coach Brian Agler drew up the play. Most would think the shot would be taken by Candace Parker, but Chelsey Gray had other ideas. With time winding down, Gray dribbled left and pulled up with her signature shot. It was a 14-footer that hit nothing but net with 2 seconds left to give the Sparks a 1-0 lead.
Game 2 started the exact opposite for the Sparks as the Lynx jumped out to a 28-10 first quarter lead. After failing to get a rebound in the first quarter of Game1, Sylvia Fowles took matters into her own hands and finished with 13 points and a WNBA Finals record 17 rebounds. In this game, Gray made a critical turnover with about 10 seconds left to seal the deal for Minnesota as they tied the series at one game apiece.
It was a great response from a Lynx team that was blasted by head coach Cheryl Reeve for their sorry performance in Game 1. Players crashed the boards and veterans Rebekkah Brunson ( 12 rebounds) and Lynsay Whalen (14 points) played a huge part in this win.
The teams headed back to LA for Game 3 and the fans were treated to another great game that went to the wire again. Nneka Ogwumike and Odessy Sims each scored 16 points to pace the Sparks and move them to within one game of a repeat. Candace Parker played another complete game and showed that when she is healthy, she is one the best all-around players in the women’s game today.
Four of the Sparks starters scored in double figures and the likes of Magic Johnson and Snoop Doff really led the cheers from the fans. It was the first game of the series that was not decided in the final moments as the Sparks were defensively sound the whole night. They had hands in and around the basketball all night making it really difficult for the Lynx to ever get into a rhythm. The Sparks got the win and were now one game away for another championship.
Game 4 was a must-win for the Lynx and they played just like that. They were aggressive from the opening tip outhustling the Sparks. They beat them to almost all the loose balls and built a 19-point lead they would not relinquish. Rebekkah Brunson was huge in the win with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
The Lynx dominated the boards and were so physical that a common foul by Lindsay Whalen was upgraded to a Flagrant 1.
Now, the teams go back to Minnesota for Game 5 and the winner will be crowned WNBA Champions for the 2017 season. For Minnesota, it will a chance to claim their fourth championship in seven years. For LA, they can win their fourth title as well and become the first team to repeat since they did it over a decade ago.