Los Angeles (12-3) at Minnesota (12-1)
When: Thursday, July 6th 2017
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St Paul, MN
Time: 8:00 ET | TV: ESPN2
Opening Odds: Minnesota -5.5/165
The two best teams in the WNBA over the last several years, will meet Thursday night for the first of three regular season meetings. The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx have captured three of the last four WNBA titles with the Sparks coming out on top of the Lynx in an epic five-game series to win their first title in 14 years. Los Angeles is once again on the heels of Minnesota at 12-3 and just a game back of the 12-1 Lynx. L.A. has won eight straight games after Sunday’s huge comeback win over the Washington Mystics. The Sparks trailed by 17 at halftime, but rallied in the second half to pull out a 76-69 and covered the 5.5-point spread. Candace Parker had 17 points and 11 rebounds in that contest to lead the charge. Chelsea Gray (17), Alana Beard (13), Nneka Ogwumike (15), along with Parker, did the bulk of the scoring against Washington. The Sparks, who are third in the league in scoring offense (85.8) and second in defense (78.1), will have one day off after this game and play in Seattle on Saturday.
The Lynx come in with the league’s best record at 12-1 and top the WNBA in both offense (88.0) and defense (76.2). Minnesota has rebounded from their stunning home loss to Connecticut on June 17th with three straight victories – something they didn’t do after losing their first contest last season. Lynx center Sylvia Fowles, who this week was named Western Conference player of the month for the second straight time, said last year’s Finals loss will fuel her. “It definitely sparks something in us because we did lose to them last year,” Fowles told the Pioneer Press. “That’s always on our mind when we have to go back and face them.” Fowles is second in the league this season in both points (20.7 per game) and rebounds (10.1) and scored 17 in last Friday’s 91-83 win at Phoenix. Maya Moore may be playing even better than Fowles right now. The forward out of UCONN has scored 21 or more points in five straight games, bumping her season average up to 16.4 a game. Like the Sparks, Minnesota will have one day off before traveling to Chicago to face the Sky.
I expect this to be a hard-fought close contest. Both of these teams are the class of the league and anytime you can get points in a contest like this, you take them. Minnesota wins by a bucket.
Pick: Sparks +6.5
HEAD TO HEAD