The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks — set to clash on Monday night at 10 p.m. ET — are embroiled in one of the best rivalries in WNBA history. This season, both are in the mix for a first-round bye, which is the reward for teams that finish in the top four in the standings.
The Sparks, who won their first meeting with the Lynx by 16 points on Aug. 9, have been on a nine-game winning streak after starting the season at 3-3. The Lynx are 5-4 in their last nine contests after a 5-1 start. LA is currently tied with the Las Vegas Aces for second place and trail only the 13-3 Seattle Storm. Minnesota is fourth place in the standings, one-half game ahead of the Chicago Sky.
A Sparks win would put them in a tie for first place with the Storm — Seattle owns the head-to-head tiebreaker — and could also put the Lynx behind the Sky. In contrast, if Minnesota wins and Chicago loses, Minnesota will have a 1.5-game cushion in fourth place and be just one game behind LA for third.
The Minnesota Lynx look to keep pace with the teams in front of them Sunday as they take on the middling Phoenix Mercury, who have won their last two games. The Lynx beat the Mercury last week and with Bria Hartley out, the Lynx might have more of an edge than they did last time.
The Los Angeles Sparks have the league’s longest winning streak and are trying to extend it against the struggling Atlanta Dream. The Sparks needed overtime to beat the Dream in their last meeting.
The Sparks are superb on offense, with the best 3-point shooting percentage and the second-best overall field goal percentage in the league. The Sparks are extremely adept at creating turnovers and scoring points off of those turnovers. This aspect of their defense offsets their opponents’ field goal percentage, which is second-worst among teams above .500.
The Dream are not a bad-shooting team but committing turnovers has been quite a bad habit. However, their major downfall is their defensive output, as they allow opponents to shoot nearly 47 percent form the field. The Dream will need to play outstanding on offense and hope to get a few key stops that they could not find in their previous loss to the Sparks.