By Brady Klopfer
At some level, we all saw this coming. The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx simply had to meet again, right?
They met in the drama-filled 2016 WNBA Finals. Then they met in the drama-filled 2017 WNBA Finals.
It wasn’t going to feel like the playoffs if it didn’t feature the Lynx and the Sparks.
It just wasn’t expected to happen like this. The two teams who have dominated the league for the last few years fell to the back of the standings. Instead of meeting in the Finals, or even the semifinals, they meet in the first round, one lone single-elimination game to settle the rivalry once and for all.
On the one hand, it’s too short, too little. We need five games of this heated, intense, brilliant rivalry. On the other hand, the stakes and emotions don’t get much higher than a win-or-go-home game. And one of these champions will win; and the other will go home.
There are almost too many storylines to count.
There’s Lindsay Whalen, retirement lingering on the near horizon, playing in potentially her final WNBA game. And it comes against Odyssey Sims, a player she’s butted heads with numerous times in recent meetings.
There are the superstars – the many, many superstars. Four of the last five league MVPs will be suiting up at Staples Center when 10:30 p.m. ET rolls around.
There are two of the top coaches in league history, who know each other like the back of their hand, and have to creatively find some way to outsmart the other.
It seems likely that a new champion will be crowned this year. That for the first time since 2014, a team outside of Minnesota or L.A. will be WNBA royalty.
But for one night, at least, all eyes are on the dynamic rivalry, and what figures to be the best game of what may have been the WNBA’s best season.