Here comes last round of Year 20 playoffs! *see what a lurking little head cold will do to ya?* So, buckle up and lay in some popcorn – let’s see if the Lynx and their bench can tire the Spark’s starters….
From Pat Borzi at the NYTimes: Healthy and Rested, Lynx Star Lindsay Whalen Is Primed for W.N.B.A. Finals
“Off the court, she’s the one who keeps the locker room light, funny,” Maya Moore, the former W.N.B.A. most valuable player, said of Whalen. “She’s the first one that tries to make it fun, make sure everybody’s O.K. And if somebody needs a little pick-me-up, she notices. She’s a big sister by nature. That helps us on and off the court.”
With the 34-year-old Whalen as the catalyst, the defending champion Lynx reached the finals for the fifth time in six years — all since Whalen arrived in a 2010 trade from Connecticut.
When the Houston Comets won the last of their four WNBA titles in 2000, Maya Moore was an 11-year-old who already had big plans. She wanted to play in the Final Four someday. And the WNBA? Yeah, that too.
Perhaps even as ambitious a goal-setter as Moore might not have been aiming for matching the Comets. Yet 16 years later, Moore and the Minnesota Lynx are in position to do just that.
Howard “I’m movin’ up!” Megdal at USA Today: WNBA Finals features league’s best two teams
Sunday afternoon in Minnesota, the dream matchup between the WNBA’s two superteams begins in a WNBA Finals between the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks. Game 1 is at 3 p.m. EST, and will be televised by ABC.
The two combined to finish 54-14 this year, each earning the double bye in the league’s new playoff format, and then stormed through their semifinal series. Perhaps the most compelling part of the battle ahead is that each team’s strengths are mirrored by the other, each side’s roster overflowing with seemingly unanswerable challenges for the other.
.com: Kinda lovin’ the film room: WNBA Finals Film Room: On Maya Moore, the Sparks’ Deep Threat, and Minnesota’s Offensive Rebounding
Mechelle adopted by ABC: WNBA Finals primer: How do Lynx, Sparks match up?
The WNBA Finals are finally here, and feature the two teams fans and experts expected when both opened their respective seasons rattling off win after win. The defending champion Minnesota Lynx and their league-best play on both ends will have home court against the Los Angeles Sparks in a best-of-five that is, above all, must-watch basketball. Let’s dive in.
The best part of this movie is the stars, which are in no shortage. Minnesota’s packing four Olympians, while Los Angeles has the league’s Most Valuable Player and a contender for Defensive Player of the Year. But the most divisive name on either roster is Candace Parker, who many expected to go on a 34-game revenge tour after being snubbed from the Rio Olympics. It didn’t quite pan out that way, largely in part to the rise of her frontcourt partner Nneka Ogwumike, but Parker did have a strong season. Alas, folks around the WNBA are quick to give the Lynx the edge because of Parker, who some believe lack the killer instinct Minnesota’s Maya Moore has. It’s an unfair knock, and with Parker coming into her first ever Finals, expecting less than 100 percent would be silly.
Canis Hoopus: Lynx vs. Sparks: The Finals We’ve Been Waiting For
Ever since the 12-0 Lynx visited the 11-0 Sparks in Los Angeles, it’s seemed almost inevitable that these two teams would meet in the WNBA Finals. The Lynx beat the Sparks that first meeting, only to see the Sparks turn the tables in Minneapolis three nights later. By then it was clear that these teams were the class of the league.
And so it is.
Nina Mandell at USA Today: 5 months after getting cut from the Olympic team, a determined Candace Parker is looking for a WNBA title
As a rookie, Candace Parker thought it was going to be easy to bring the Los Angeles Sparks on deep playoff runs year after year. It made sense: Like most standouts, Parker’s teams had never really lost. At Tennessee, she won back-to-back titles. She was the first pick in the 2008 draft. In her first year in the league, her team made it to the conference finals.
“You’re young. You think, ‘Oh, we’ll be back next year,’ ” Parker said according to the Associated Press. “That didn’t happen, then the next and the next. You look up and it’s eight years. I really appreciate this.”
Candace Parker is finally in the WNBA Finals.
Her first trip to the championship caps off an eventful, and at times difficult, year for the Los Angeles Sparks star.
LA Times: Sparks take some tips from Magic Johnson going into the WNBA Finals (btw: has anyone thanked Magic recently for keeping the Sparks alive?)
With 12 days between the end of the regular season and the start of the postseason, the Sparks decided that one afternoon could be spent away from the court.
A semifinals series against the Chicago Sky was still a few days away and the Sparks had just finished a morning workout. So when the players walked into Crustacean in Beverly Hills for a luncheon, most of them were thinking about the popular garlic noodles dish instead of how they could win the franchise’s first title since 2002.
Then Magic Johnson, who played 13 Hall of Fame seasons with the Lakers, stood up and shared the wisdom of a five-time NBA champion. The Sparks are now carrying his message into Game 1 Sunday of the WNBA Finals (noon PDT on ABC) against the defending champion Lynx in Minnesota.
Back in May, when the league’s general managers were surveyed on which teams would win the WNBA Finals, the majority of them picked the Phoenix Mercury. Diana Taurasi’s return to the league after a season overseas was supposed to catapult the team toward its fourth championship, but save for the late-season push into the playoffs, the Mercury was nowhere close to contending. There were some other interesting teams in consideration: a Dallas Wings team with talent and energy of a new city and the Atlanta Dream, who seemed to be ready to break through with the game’s most athletic player, Angel McCoughtry. (Of course, the Wings had the league’s worst record while the Dream lacked depth to get over the hump.)
Yet, as the season began, it became abundantly clear that the league’s brightest minds were not only wrong (making predictions in sports is not an exact science), but like most observers were star-struck by the teams that separated from the pack at a historic pace.
Today’s Fastbreak: Finding the right audience for a classic WNBA Finals matchup
For the last three decades or so, supporters of women’s sports have groused about meager coverage, and have worked themselves into a frenzy asserting that the male-dominated sports media actively conspires against them.
What few of these advocates have demonstrated is a grasp of how the commercial media actually works, or to indicate what they think would be satisfactory coverage.
ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the 2016 WNBA Finals presented by Verizon featuring the top two teams in the league – defending WNBA champions Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks — will tip off Sunday, Oct. 9, at 3 p.m. ET on ABC. All other games in the best-of-five series will be played on ESPN or ESPN2. Ryan Ruocco and analyst Rebecca Lobo will call the Finals, with reporters Holly Rowe and LaChina Robinson rotating games on the sidelines. Robinson will also serve as a pregame analyst. The matchup between the Lynx and Sparks will feature the highest combined winning percentage for a Finals series in WNBA history (.794, 54-14) after Minnesota went 28-6 (.824) and Los Angeles was 26-8 (.765) for the regular season.
The head coaches of both teams – Minnesota’s Cheryl Reeve, the 2016 Coach of the Year, and Los Angeles’ Brian Agler — and select players will wear microphones during the games. Additionally, ESPN will air the full Top 20@20 ceremony honoring the top players in WNBA history, during halftime of Game 1.
The Lynx and Los Angeles did their part, giving the WNBA the matchup it wanted for the league finals that start Sunday at Target Center. But on a day with an overpacked schedule of TV sports, they will find themselves fighting for a slice of the audience.
Thirty-five minutes before a Minnesota Lynx game in July, head coach Cheryl Reeve was entrenched in a passionate discussion that had nothing to do with the opposing Dallas Wings’ threatening backcourt.
Reeve was talking to a security officer at the Target Center, hoping to discourage the police officers assigned to the game from walking out in response to Lynx players donning t-shirts honoring Philando Castile and Dallas police officers, just days after they were shot and killed.
In other NY Times news: W.N.B.A. Stars Try to Move Up to Fashion’s Front Row
As the W.N.B.A. finals between the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx begin Sunday (3 p.m. Eastern on ABC), the league’s stars still face a yawning gap in income, exposure and endorsement opportunities compared with their male counterparts. Nowhere is that more apparent than the style world, where N.B.A. players seem to carry as much clout as movie stars, but many of the W.N.B.A.’s athletes remain as invisible as key grips.
But that may be starting to change, as players like Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins have emerged as style influencers, and the fashion world slowly embraces a new inclusiveness that defines beauty beyond size 2 waifs from Ukraine.
Without question, however, there’s a lot of ground to cover if the fashion-forward female players hope to catch up to the men.
Amsterdam News: WNBA season heads to the finals
New York Liberty players have cleaned out their lockers and headed into the offseason. Rebecca Allen is going to Slovakia to play with Good Angels Kosice in the Slovakia-Extraliga league and in Eurocup. Carolyn Swords is off to Poland to play with Basket 90 Gdynia in Poland-TBLK and Eurocup. Getting back to form after a torn ACL, Epiphanny Prince will return to her Russian team, Dynamo Kursk, for Russia-PBL and Euroleague play.
Rookie status is something not attributed to Lauren Jackson since before the turn of the century, but if she seemed fearless as a 16-year-old on her first tour to Brazil with the Opals, her debut into motherhood has been much more daunting.
“It’s been scary, actually, I haven’t been through anything as scary as this,” Jackson tells ESPN.
As any prospective parent knows, pregnancy is a whole new ball game.
Quick hits from the NCAA:
Sue’s doin’ the do: Pac-12 preview: The University of Oregon: This is the first in an annual season preview series of the Pac-12 teams.