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Sparks at Lynx Game Thread

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The first match-up of the year between the W’s two best teams.

2016 WNBA Finals - Game Five Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Sparks at Lynx
7:00 pm CDT
ESPN2

In their biggest test yet, the Lynx host the Los Angeles Sparks tonight for the first time since last year’s devastating loss in game five of the Finals.

These are, once again, the two best teams in the league, with the Lynx out to a 12-1 start on the season, while the Sparks stumbled a couple of times early but have now reeled off eight wins in a row and are sitting at 12-3.

The Sparks feature a bit of a different look from last season, with Kristi Toliver now in Washington, but Alana Beard and especially Chelsea Gray have taken on bigger roles. In fact Gray, who last season played only about 15 minutes per game and scored six points per, is now the Sparks third leading scorer and their top assister, while only just behind Beard in total minutes.

The Sparks are still led by their two MVP-caliber players in Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike, both of whom draw a ton of attention inside. The Lynx’ league-leading defense will have their hands full, but if there is a front court that can deal with these two stars, it’s Sylvia Fowles and Rebekkah Brunson, who have been key to the Lynx spectacular defensive effort this season. The Lynx will also have to keep track of Gray at all times and limit her looks from beyond the arc.

For the Lynx, it would be good to see Maya Moore with a true break out game; she has struggled with her shooting through much of the early season. That has been mitigated by the MVP level play of Fowles, who has been dominating the league at both ends of the floor. Her post play has been terrific so far, and nobody in the league has been able to stop her. Now it’s Ogwumike’s turn to try.

Despite Moore’s relatively poor shooting, Cheryl Reeve’s promise to shoot more threes has come to fruition. The Lynx are in the middle of the pack in terms of attempts and they are third in percentage. Brunson, Lindsay Whalen, and Seimone Augustus have all been looking for (and making) the three much more frequently, proving that old (relatively) players can learn new tricks.

Right now, no other teams are close to the Lynx and Sparks. Dominance of the league belongs to these two teams. Both of them will be looking to make an early statement tonight on national television.

This is as good as it gets.