8 p.m. Friday at Target Center (NBATV)
2 p.m. Sunday at Los Angeles (ESPN)
TBD Tuesday at Target Center (ESPN2)*
Season series (Lynx 3-1)
June 16: Lynx 67, (at) Sparks 52
July 29: (at) Lynx 82, Sparks 76
Aug. 4: (at) Sparks 83, Lynx 61
Aug. 9: (at) Lynx 72, Sparks 64
These teams had remarkably similar seasons. Both of them were without key players for extended periods, both are now whole entering the playoffs. “We’ve been through as much change as they have,” Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
Lynx in three.
The Lynx emerged from a 6-6 August with a renewed sense of purpose. And the team will have G Seimone Augustus (foot sprain) and G Lindsay Whalen (Achilles strain) back. Look for more efficient offensive play from the Lynx, with a full complement of players. F Maya Moore (20.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists per game) should be rested after taking the regular-season finale off. C Sylvia Fowles has averaged nearly a double-double since joining the team. Whalen’s return should give the Lynx a boost off the bench from Anna Cruz (8 ppg, 3 apg). Key matchups will be Rebekkah Brunson against Candace Parker, Whalen and Cruz vs. Kristi Toliver, and Fowles vs. Jantel Lavender.
The Sparks were without All-Star F Candace Parker for half the season, F Nneka Ogwumike for several games, and G Alana Beard for much of the first half as well. Now healthy, they are a dangerous No. 4 seed. The Sparks were 3-15 without Parker. With her back and revolutionizing the power forward position with her passing, they went 11-5; L.A. was the league’s most efficient offensive team since the All-Star break. Parker has shot nearly 50 percent, averaged 19.4 points, 10.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists. G Kristi Toliver (12.4 ppg) and Ogwumike (16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg) are tough and C Jantel Lavender (14.5 ppg) has proved deadly with her midrange jumper.