Saturday, December 16th, 2017

WNBA Finals Game One: Lynx and Sparks on home court advantage, keys to game one and biggest challenges

Published on September 24, 2017

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Los Angeles at Minnesota, 3:30 p.m. EDT, TV: ABC
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The Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks face each other in the WNBA Finals for the second season in a row. Game one tips off today in Minneapolis on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The Lynx have home court advantage but the Sparks are undaunted heading into the five-game series and have been looking forward to the Finals since the onset of this season.

“This is our ultimate goal from the beginning,” said Sparks guard Alana Beard during practice Saturday. “We set out a plan and we’re here, which is what we set out to do.”

Other players and the head coaches also provided some thoughts on the series.

The significance of home court advantage

Brian Agler, Los Angeles Sparks head coach

“I think that once you get in the arena and between the lines, you forget where you’re at. Minnesota has been historically very good at home. This year, we’ve improved how we play at home; it’s been more consistent. A lot of it [home-court advantage] has to do with your surroundings and your comfort of not having to travel. You stay in more of a routine in your own space, and once you get out on the floor, you forget about all of that.”

Cheryl Reeve, Minnesota Lynx head coach

“We wanted first place for a reason because we think that the odds are with you if you have three home games. And we should expect that it will go five games.”

Sylvia Fowles, Minnesota Lynx

“This is what we worked hard for all season – to get home court advantage. We definitely want to utilize being at home.”

What is needed for success in game one

Chelsea Gray, Los Angeles Sparks

“We have to stay true to us, stay consistent defensively and stay in place with their scorers. Offensively, just get in the flow and play our game and have confidence in that.”

Odyssey Sims, Los Angeles Sparks

“We’re just going to have an attacking mentality. We will take it one possession at a time. Knowing that we have to do all the little things, the 50/50 balls, rebounds, just extra hustle. Everything is going to come into play that we need to focus on tomorrow.”

Lindsay Whalen, Minnesota Lynx

“Every game is important so we have to come out here and be ready to go from the tip. We have to work hard and execute like our coaches want us to.”

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

“Be aggressive. We’re going to leave it all out there on the table. There are five games left in your season – period. You don’t want to go out there and pace yourself for anything. You want to get after it from the tip. I know Game 1 is important especially for them. It gives them the opportunity to play at least two games at home. We definitely want to try to take care of game one.”

Biggest Challenges

Brian Agler, Los Angeles Sparks head coach

“Maya is a great player and Alana [Beard] and Essence [Carson] have both tried to battle her. They [Minnesota] also put a lot of pressure on you inside with Sylvia’s presence. Then, Seimone [Augustus] right now is playing as well as she has all year and with Lindsay [Whalen] back, she is a veteran player. She is their leader, and they obviously missed her while she was out. She was significant in the Washington series, and they complement Lindsay with Renee Montgomery who is a different kind of player who puts a different kind of pressure on you. I think Rebekkah Brunson is like our Alana Beard; they really count on her to be an influence on the defensive end.”

Seimone Augustus, Minnesota Lynx

They also have a great supporting cast that surrounds them. Chelsea Gray has come into her own this season. You see Odyssey Sims in the playoffs playing probably her best basketball of the season. Just the consistency that surrounds the teams as well as the leadership.

This post is part of the thread: 2017 WNBA Season – an ongoing story on this site. View the thread timeline for more context on this post.


 

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