© Brad Rempel

Now or never for Lynx, Sparks in one-and-done playoff

Matchup is repeat of last two WNBA finals

August 21, 2018 - 4:50 am

    The Lynx are the unusual position of a one-and-done playoff game tonight.  The reigning WNBA champions are looking defend their title -- but they are not one of the top seeds, so they'll face their old nemesis, the Los Angeles Sparks Tuesday night in a one-game, win-or-go-home playoff.  

    The Sparks are the number six seed in the eight-team playoff, while the Lynx are seventh after finishing the season at 18-16.

    Los Angeles was 19-15 in the regular season.

    "The playoffs isn't about the best team, it's about who's playing the best basketball," said Lynx guard Seimone Augustus. "If we can get going the way we can, they don't want to play the Lynx if we ever get ourselves rolling. This is a good opportunity to get that done."

   Tuesday's other one-game playoff is Dallas at Phoenix. But the late-night clash in southern California has added interest because the teams have met in the last two WNBA finals.

   "It'll be vintage Sparks and Lynx," said Minnesota coach Cheryl Reeve. "But this time, not in a finals situation. Kind of interesting."

   The winner moves on to face the Washington Mystics.  

   Los Angeles: The biggest question for the Sparks is the health of Nneka Ogwumike, who is listed as questionable for the game because of an illness. Ogwumike was sidelined for a few games before the All-Star break because of fatigue and exhaustion. The Sparks have gotten solid play from their guards with Chelsea Gray putting up strong numbers again along with Odyssey Sims, Riquna Williams and Essence Carson. The quartet has complemented star Candace Parker well.

   Minnesota: The Lynx have dropped six of their last 10 games and haven't been consistent for much of the season. Guard Lindsay Whalen announced her upcoming retirement last week and the Lynx would love nothing more than to send their leader out on top. Minnesota has its own injury woes with Rebekkah Brunson sidelined by a concussion and Danielle Robinson an ankle injury. Even if Brunson can't play, the Lynx still have their own talented trio of Seimone Augustus, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore.

   Outlook: These two teams have played 16 times over the past two seasons with each team winning eight times. The game is basically a tossup.