Since the Lynx and Sparks began the 2016 WNBA finals, the two teams have played each other 12 times. That includes those finals last year, which the Sparks won on the Target Center floor in Game 5, the three times they played in the regular season and the four games of this year’s finals.
And both teams have scored exactly 908 points.
There are a number of stats that will show how tightly-matched these two teams are, how the two franchises are miles distant of the rest of the league, at least over the last two seasons.
But when it comes to looking at Game 5, not many people were reciting stats or talking Xs and Os at practice Tuesday at Williams Arena.
“I don’t think this is going to end in a draw,’’ Sparks coach Brian Agler said.
No. It’s going to come down to which team can force its will on the other. Or, as Lynx guard Seimone Augustus said, “It’s sheer will and determination. It’s who wants it more. Hearts and guts.’’
With that in mind, here are some things to look for in Wednesday’s game 5 at Williams Arena at 7 p.m.”
--Rebounding. The Lynx’s 48-28 edge in Game 4 – the biggest in Minnesota playoff history – meant the Sparks were constantly taking the ball out of the nets. When the Sparks can’t get rebounds and move in transition, they’re much easier to stop. Both teams know this. The Sparks have been harping on this since Game 4 ended. Can the Lynx dominate on the boards again?
--Throughout the series the Sparks have gotten most of their points from guards Odyssey Sims and Chelsea Gray, the Lynx from forward Maya Moore and center Sylvia Fowles. So it comes down to who else can score. For the Lynx, when Rebekkah Brunson has scored, the Lynx have won. She has averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds in Minnesota’s two wins, 4.0 points and 2.0 rebounds in two loss. For the Sparks, Candace Parker (13.5 points per game, 35.9 shooting percentage) has yet to have a breakout game. She did last year, with 28 points and 12 rebounds.
--Going against defensive player of the year Alana Beard, Maya Moore has averaged 17.8 points and shot 58.1 percent. But she is taking just 6.3 shots a game. That tells me she’s effective when she gets her shot, but that Beard is denying it pretty well, too. This has been one of the matchups of the series. Is Moore ready for another game like she had in Game 1?