It’s only right that it might come down to this game.
The Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks have been the two best teams all season. If not in a league of their own, certainly in a class by themselves. They are rated the top two offensively and defensively in the WNBA. Minnesota’s 13-0 start — which culminated with a 72-69 victory June 21 in L.A. — is the best undefeated start in league history. The Sparks’ 20-1 start, which included an 18-point victory over the Lynx on June 24 at in Target Center, is tied for the best start overall in league history.
And now this: The two teams, both 24-5, will play Tuesday night in Los Angeles.
To the winner: a clinched berth in the league semifinals, the league’s best record with four regular-season games left and the tiebreaker in the season series between the teams.
The top seed, of course, gets home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
“It’s going to be a clash of the titans as far as who wants it more,” Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said. “We both know where we want to get to.”
The Lynx, with four Olympians, are looking for their fourth league title in six seasons and for their first-ever back-to-back titles. Candace Parker, the Sparks’ star who didn’t make the U.S. Olympic team, is looking for her first WNBA title.
“Our main focus now is playing the best basketball we can,” Parker said. “And playing for first place. Home court advantage is huge. … In years past we didn’t take care of business in the regular season and tried to play catch-up in the postseason.”
The Lynx have won nine of 10 games overall but struggled to regain their rhythm coming out of the Olympic break, with a loss to Connecticut and tight victories over Washington and Seattle. The Lynx played a strong game wire to wire Sunday in beating Connecticut.
The Sparks were 1-2 into the break and lost their first two games when the regular season resumed. They have won three in a row but have not looked as dominant as they did earlier in the season.
“It will be a good test for both teams to see where they are as they push toward the playoffs,” ESPN analyst Rebecca Lobo said.
Nneka Ogumike is having an MVP season for the Sparks, who boast a prolific starting five. Maya Moore and Sylvia Fowles are coming off back-to-back strong games for the Lynx.
“To me, the Lynx, with their bench, have a larger margin for error,” said ESPN’s LaChina Robinson.
That bench got deeper with the debut of Anna Cruz on Sunday. Cruz rejoined the team after helping the Spanish national team qualify for, and play in, the Olympics.
“Every year we’re focused on getting the No. 1 spot,” Augustus said.