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Sparks hope to close out WNBA Finals at home Sunday

By in Press Enterprise on October 1, 2017

By Mike Guardabascio

It’s déjà vu for the Sparks, as they try to become the first WNBA team to repeat as league champions since their franchise did it in 2001. Just like last year, L.A. holds a 2-1 WNBA Finals lead over Minnesota headed into a potential close-out Game 4 at the Staples Center.

Last year, the Sparks dropped Game 4 and had to win the championship in Minnesota. This time they’re trying to close it out at home.

“I think it would be huge, especially for the fans,” Sparks All-Star forward Nneke Ogwumike said. “To be able to do it at Staples would be very special.”

The challenge for Sparks coach Brian Agler has been making sure that his team both appreciates the gravity of the moment, and that they don’t try to do too much. Agler’s message to the team last year was that the Sparks had tried to win a championship, instead of just winning a game. With most of last year’s team back, he’s hoping that message resonated over the last 12 months.

“We’ll find out (on Sunday),” he said. “At the same time, I honestly think we can come out and play a great game and still not win. That’s how competitive this series is.”

The series has been the best in women’s basketball over the last year. Before Friday’s relatively comfortable 75-64 win, the two teams’ past 11 meetings were decided by a total of 13 points, and neither Agler nor Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve expected anything different for Sunday’s contest.

Reeve said the Sparks’ defensive intensity was most responsible for making her team uncomfortable.

“I’m not afraid to give someone credit when they’ve earned it and they have, really,” she said. “It’s their identity, they’ve bought into that.”

If the Sparks win, the confetti will drop; if the Lynx win, they’d force a deciding […]    

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