Well, you’re going to have to wait until 8pm. In the meantime, here’s something to distract you:
From LaChina: ‘Around the Rim’ podcast: One win away
It all comes down to Thursday night, and “Around The Rim” prepares you for the excitement to come of Game 5 of the WNBA Finals as women’s basketball analyst LaChina Robinson is joined by two-time WNBA champion Katie Smith to break it all down.
First, Robinson and Smith recap the action from the previous games leading up to Game 5, including Alana Beard’s buzzer-beater in Game 1, the Lynx evening the series in Game 2, the Sparks’ domination of Game 3 and Maya Moore’s standout performance in Game 4.
Smith also talks about her personal relationship with both coaches, Brian Agler and Cheryl Reeves, and how each of them has risen their team to new heights.
Seimone Augustus was a 13-year-old girl when she watched the Houston Comets win the first WNBA championship in 1997.
The Comets would win the first four titles in the league, proving to basketball-loving girls across the country that there was a place for them to pursue their dreams. And Augustus couldn’t get enough of them.
Two decades later, Augustus and the Minnesota Lynx stand on the precipice of joining those trailblazing women.
Here we go. For only the fifth time in WNBA history, the Finals have a reached a fifth and deciding game. The Lynx and Sparks are set to do battle one last time on Thursday night. These Finals have been insane, an emotional rollercoaster with outstanding on-court drama.
Chad Graff at Twin Cities: Lynx know they need one more victory to start talking big
When training camp opened six months ago, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve talked openly about the dynasty a championship this season would create.
After winning WNBA championships in 2011, 2013 and 2015, the Lynx set their sites this season on becoming the league’s first back-to-back champs in 14 years.
In April, Reeve was open with such talk. Now? Not so much.
Star Tribune’s Jim Souhan: After recent success, ‘mature’ Lynx have little more to prove
They were hardly uptight on Wednesday, in preparation for the final game of the WNBA Finals, Thursday night at Target Center. They have learned to appreciate the march of history as well as the pursuit of it.
So there was Seimone Augustus, the franchise’s first great player of this core group, saying: “We always joke — you’ve never seen the strength of a woman until you’ve banged up against a woman who’s had a child.”
She laughed. The topic was her team’s maturity, which can be cast as a compliment to accomplishment or an insult to their advanced athletic ages.
The L.A. Sparks had watched everything they’d prepared for and dreamed of — the chance to celebrate a WNBA championship in front of more than 12,000 fans at the Staples Center — slip away.
Around the postgame locker room, they knew that they had put forth a championship-level effort in an 85-79 loss to the league’s reigning dynasty, the Minnesota Lynx. They just hadn’t played with championship-level poise down the stretch, allowing the moment to get too big in their heads.
That’s when their co-owner, Magic Johnson, entered the room.
Rachel Blount, Star Tribune: Sparks hopeful Game 4 loss vs. Lynx will prove a growing experience
Brian Agler has been in this situation before. In 1997 and 1998, when he was coaching Columbus of the American Basketball League, his team twice made it to the best-of-five league finals — and won a pair of championships in series that went to Game 5.
So the Los Angeles coach understands what the Sparks will face in Thursday’s Game 5 of the WNBA Finals. But when Agler looked at his players Sunday, after a Game 4 loss to the Lynx at Staples Center, he was reminded they do not share his wealth of experience.
Ogwumike, the heartbeat of the Sparks and the league’s most valuable player, has a gift for turning the page. She can forget missed shots, a hollow stat line, a loss, immediately after a game. She can laugh about any of it too.
But here she was, wide awake, jogging her brain to answer a question that would not go away: What kept the Sparks from clinching the title on their home floor?
LA Sentinel: Lynx Challenge Sparks in WNBA Finals
Umm… Swish Appeal: Unmatched: Sparks, Lynx is best sporting event in the world
Today’s Fastbreak: Appreciating the old pros in the WNBA Finals
Michelle: Inside The W
Not every championship series proves itself to be a satisfactory culmination of a season.
When an entire season’s worth of competition results in a lopsided, one-sided run to a trophy, often the only ones who leave feeling truly fulfilled are the champions. But in the WNBA’s landmark 20th season — one that will be remembered by historical markers, great individual performances and final seasons for future Hall of Famers — the WNBA Finals has been an appropriately worthy showcase.
NY Times’s Seth Berkman: Sparks’ Candace Parker Ignores Slights, Heeding Pat Summitt’s Lessons
Because she has heeded Summitt’s lessons, Parker has had a more important goal come into focus: With a Sparks victory in Thursday’s decisive Game 5 of the W.N.B.A. finals, Parker would capture her first title.
“It’s always trying to put your team in a position to win,” Parker said Wednesday as the Sparks prepared to face the Minnesota Lynx. “Of course, Coach never wanted us to focus on individual awards.”
Whalen is about getting the job done, not talking about doing it. She might occasionally give an enthusiastic fist pump after a big basket, but for the most part she’s just moving right on to the next play.
She is never going to let her emotion became fuel for her opponent. Whether Whalen was holding a royal flush or a pair of twos, nobody but her is going to know. Yet when you ask who is the emotional leader of the Lynx, the answer is … Lindsay Whalen.
Alana Beard is in her 13th year as a pro, and she’s been through some trials, for sure.
Yet Beard has been a constant source of good vibes and uplifting support for her Sparks teammates. A win Thursday (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET) would be the first WNBA title for all the current Sparks players. Even if they don’t win, Beard will find solace in having given it her all, and in her belief in advice she got in 2001 but didn’t fully grasp until a decade later.
In other news:
Really? 20 years in and I’m just hearing about this?! WNBA players confess the grueling flip side of stardom
Nerd Nation rulz: WNBA players turn to N. Ogwumike as union prez
Albany Times Union: Margot Hetzke playing waiting game for Siena women’s basketball
(Also from ATU, a little history: What high school sports looked like the year you were born)