Sparks Take Next Step
By Gary Montgomery
Commentary The Los Angeles Sparks finished a two game sweep over the San Antonio Silver Stars 101 to 93 on Saturday and are now awaiting the winner of the series between the Minnesota Lynx the league’s reigning champs and the Seattle Storm, the 2010 season’s champion. The Storm forced a series deciding third game on Tuesday in Minnesota after winning a double overtime thriller in Seattle on Saturday. LA, the Western conference’s second seed behind Minnesota is playing its best basketball in years. LA’s leading scorer is point guard Kristi Tolliver at 17.5 points per game. Tolliver, the WNBA’s most improved player this season has taken off under the tutelage of first year head coach Carol Ross.
Right on Tolliver heels, all everything Candace Parker is averaging a distant 17.4 points per game and is a leading candidate for WNBA Player of the Year honors. In two playoff games, Parker and Tolliver have raised their averages to 28 and 26 points per game respectively.
If the Sparks win the WNBA championship you can bet Parker will hoist two trophies. Parker has turned in the kind of performance this season that everyone has been waiting for since her arrival in the league 4 years ago. But before collecting their gold, there is a huge challenge ahead. LA will play the winner of Tuesday’s Minnesota Malay.
Both teams represent different but significant challenges for the Sparks. Seattle dismissed LA from playoff contention in the first round two years ago. Led by a group of crafty veterans, Sue Bird, Lauren Jackson and Tina Thompson off the bench could give the Sparks a lot of trouble. The Lynx, led by Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen have been the league’s best team for the last two seasons. LA beat the Lynx on September 27th in a season ending blow out at Staples that the the Lynx will likely not forget.
Minnesota, with it’s a allstar cast or Seattle with its experienced veterans both present a real test for the young Sparks team. A matchup with Seattle would give the Sparks home court advantage. In the shortened WNBA playoff formats home court advantage is big. The Sparks probably won’t say it but my guess is they are rooting for Seattle. If LA plays Seattle game 1 will be at Staples Center on Thursday October 4th. If the Lynx prevail, LA will travel to Minnesota for game 1 on Sunday October 7th. G. Montgomery can be reached at HYPERLINK "mailto:email@example.com"firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo by Robert Attical, BVN Staff TOO LATE – Candace Parker rises above a defender during one of the season’s final games. Parker averaged 17.4 PPG this season and is a candidate for the league’s most valuable player honors. Photo by Robert Attical, BVN Staff YOU CAN’T SEE ME – LA’s point guard sensation Kristi Tolliver slashes past a defender during a game earlier in the season. Tolliver was voted the League’s Most Improved Players this season. Tolliver averaged 17.5 point per game this season.
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