The Los Angeles Sparks and Minnesota Lynx went through some personnel changes this off-season, but the rivalry still remains.
The rivalry begins anew Saturday afternoon as these two square off for their first meeting of the season at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Minnesota has gotten off to a good start to the season, racing out to a 4-1 record. The Lynx sit atop the Western Conference standings and are in second place overall in the WNBA.
Los Angeles (2-2) will look to find a groove against a strong Minnesota squad.
Minnesota Lynx: What to watch
Minnesota has gotten great production so far from former Sparks’ player, Odyssey Sims. Sims was traded to Minnesota for Alexis Jones and has carried her play from Los Angeles to Minnesota.
Sims has been averaging 11.6 points and 4.6 assists a game throughout the early stages of the season for her new squad.
Napheesa Collier has had an interesting start to her professional career. The rookie had a great first game against the Chicago Sky finishing with 27 points. But since then, she has had some ups and downs. In her previous three games, Collier has scored just 31 combined points.
The Lynx narrowly defeated the Phoenix Mercury 58-56 on Thursday evening behind the performance of Sims, Sylvia Fowles, and Lexie Brown. Sims led the way for the Lynx with 15 points on 7-16 shooting from the field.
Minnesota held Phoenix to 36.8 percent from the field and 23.1 percent from three-point range. The Lynx also out-rebounded the Mercury 35-25 on the boards in the win.
Overall, Minnesota has been a team that’s held their own against opponents. The Lynx hold oppositions to 67.8 points a game on 41.4 percent of shots from the field and out-rebounds their opponents 35-28 on average.
Los Angeles: What to watch
Los Angeles will have their work cut out for themselves coming off an 89-77 loss to Connecticut on Thursday. Chiney Ogwumike scored 19 points in her return to Mohegan Sun Arena.
The Sparks’ ability to find grooves in games has been present in spurts. Then, they try to find some life in rallies in the fourth quarter. Los Angeles has to be able to start the game hot and maintain momentum for a majority of the games this season.
Some of the keys for the Los Angeles Sparks in this game are to be active on the boards, maintain offensive momentum, and start with defense.
Los Angeles is getting out-rebounded 44-36 on average as that hinders opportunities for second-chance opportunities and possessions in transition.
The Sparks always have moments in games in which they go cold on offense. When Los Angeles is able to have a set offense or has good ball movement, the Sparks are able to find their rhythm and momentum.
Defense is crucial for the visiting side. The Sparks hold their opponents to 78.8 points a game and their defensive rating through week two is 91.6. It is important for the Sparks to establish their defensive presence early to help them capitalize on possessions.
Some familiar faces in the Lynx and Sparks match-ups will not be suiting up. Candace Parker (hamstring) and Alana Beard (left leg) are not with the team as they are rehabbing their injuries. Maria Vadeeva is overseas with Russia.
Jantel Lavender was traded to the Chicago Sky and Essence Carson signed with Phoenix in the off-season.
For Minnesota, Maya Moore is sitting out this year to focus on her ministry and Lindsay Whalen retired at the end of the 2018 season. Whalen’s number 13 jersey will be raised in the rafters pregame. Seimone Augustus had arthroscopic knee surgery last week and is out for the time being.
The game will take place at 12:30 p.m. PT on ABC.