The Sparks and Lynx renew the league’s premiere rivalry on national television this afternoon to open the regular season slate for both squads.
These teams have met in the last two WNBA Finals, with each team emerging victorious once in two competitive five game series. There is immense star power on both sides, with the Sparks featuring a front court duo of Nneka Ogwumike (the 2016 league MVP) and Candace Parker, who plays one of the most complete outside-inside games in the league. They have added Cappie Pondexter to the mix as a free agent, and appear to me to be one of the deepest teams in the league.
The Lynx, of course, feature last season’s MVP, Sylvia Fowles, along with Maya Moore, a perennial candidate for the award. Their starting lineup remains intact, with longtime standouts Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus, and Lindsay Whalen rounding out the group.
As Neil wrote in his Lynx preview on Friday, the bench has once again been made over, this time with even more veterans as the Lynx try to wring one more title run out of this group.
Every year I wonder whether the window will close on this group after a lengthy run at or near the top of the league. It’s now four titles in seven seasons with much the same core group. Every year they make me look dumb by going out and dominating the league.
This year though...I should really shut up, but they have two 36 year olds (Brunson, Whalen) and a 34 year old (Augustus) in the starting lineup. They have an all new bench. In addition, the season is going to be significantly compressed due to the FIBA World Cup coming at the end of the summer.
All of that said, you cannot count them out. Moore and Fowles is an incredible foundation to build a team around, perhaps the best twosome in the league. Whalen, Augustus, and Brunson remain quality players even if they can’t do it as consistently and regularly as they once did. Getting real help from the second unit is going to be key to another Lynx run at a title.
At any rate, it starts tonight, when the Lynx, returning home to Target Center after a year in St. Paul, will raise the banner for their fourth title, and begin working on number five.