The WNBA Finals have started with the Los Angeles Sparks taking home court advantage yesterday in Minnesota as the Sparks defeated the Lynx on Veteran, Alana Beard’s game winning buzzer beater 78-76 in front of a sellout crowd. Coming into the series, the expectations are for the series to go the distance but the Los Angeles Sparks may have other plans if they can pull out another victory tomorrow night in Minnesota to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the best of 5 series. During the regular season, the Lynx won the grueling series 2-1.
Game 1 of the WNBA Finals was close the entire 40 minutes with neither team leading more than 6 points. The first game of the series is usually a ‘feel out’ game for the teams to recognize any changes from regular season play, feel out the refs… Will the refs allow more aggressive play, less, etc. The two teams are very familiar with each other’s styles of play, so it’s about which team can execute their game plan the best for 3 of the 5 games to claim the WNBA Championship trophy!
The Sparks seemed to get into a little foul trouble during the first half of Game 1, then flipped the script in the second half by playing more aggressive on the offensive end than the Lynx to earn trips to the charity stripe early in the final quarter.
Lindsay Whalen and Sylvia Fowles, were the steady and smooth veterans for the Lynx that kept them in the game during the first half while All-Stars, Seimone Augustus and Maya Moore struggled with their offense in the first half. Moore would find her offensive game in the second half scoring all of her 18 points to join teammates Whalen and Fowles whom both contributed 18 points for the game. Seimone Augustus was silent with just 6 points on a non-aggressive 2-5 shooting from the field.
League MVP, Nneka Ogwumike scored 19 points while sharp shooter, Kristi Toliver also added a quiet 19 points for the Sparks who received Cannamazing energy from Candace Parker, making her WNBA Finals debut after 8 seasons tossing in 14 points, 3 assists and 1 block. The ‘big 3’ scored and played ‘big” for the Sparks all game, but the Sparks got a boost from their bench which out played the Lynx’s bench behind the play of Chelsea Gray and Jantel Lavender. Chelsea came into the game and forced action logging 12 points, 4 assists and 2 blocks with Jantel Lavender making her mark with timely shots on 4-6 shooting from the field for the LA Sparks.
Alana Beard, a steady veteran known for her lock down defense, made two outstanding defensive plays down the stretch of the game before capping off a solid game with the game winner from the corner at the buzzer!
Game 2 of the WNBA Finals will be played Tuesday, October 11th at 8:00 p.m. EST on ESPN 2.