Simone Augustus (249205)
Credit: Bill Moore photo

The 2017 WNBA Finals have a familiar feel—same electricity as 2016, same two teams, same intensity and the same do-or-die quality. In the first four games the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx, each team with three prior WNBA titles, have shown flashes of brilliance and determination to become the team that ties the WNBA’s first dynasty, the Houston Comets, with four titles. Just as in 2016, the finals went to a fifth and deciding game.

The best-of-five series began in Minnesota, where the Sparks claimed game one and the Lynx won game two. The teams headed to Los Angeles, where the Sparks asserted their dominance on home court, taking game three of the series 75-64, the biggest margin thus far in the series (game one was decided by one point and game two by two points).

“It was a hard-fought game,” said Sparks coach Brian Agler after the win. “We’re fortunate to have fought off their charge.”

“I was proud of the way down the stretch when it got to be five, six minutes, we didn’t stop and just let the clock go,” said Sparks center Candace Parker, who complimented teammate Odyssey Sims on maintaining a quick pace.

The Lynx prevented a Sparks win on home court by prevailing 80-69 in game four. WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles was relentless in a double-double, 22 points and 14 rebounds. Rebekkah Brunson also recorded a double-double, 18 points and 13 rebounds.

“We didn’t like how game three ended for us, and we just wanted to come out and set the tempo and set the tone,” said Fowles. “For the five that was out there, we wanted to make sure we had high energy. I think Brunson set the tone from the start, and we pretty much just followed her lead.”

“I absolutely felt like I needed to bring more energy tonight, and I was hoping that my team would be able to feed off of that,” said Brunson. “I just need to continue to go out there, be aggressive and play hard.”

The finals concluded Wednesday with a game in Minnesota. Although the New York Liberty exited in the second round of the playoffs, there was one more postseason honor as Tina Charles was named All-WNBA First Team for the fifth time in her career.