Whenever the Minnesota Lynx and the Los Angeles Sparks play each other, fans of the WNBA are going to watch a game that features plenty of athleticism to go along with some fast paced basketball.
Some of the greats to ever touch the basketball will be on the floor at the Target Center, which is located in Minnesota. Diana Taurasi, Brittney Griner, and the reigning WNBA MVP Sylvia Fowles will all be players to watch in the 8pm ESPN2 telecast that will be happening today.
Both the Lynx and the Sparks have struggled to start the season, having records that do not reflect the play that is normally seen on the court. Don’t let that fool you, as in the WNBA on any given night and on any given game things can change.
“We can’t take any game lightly , we can’t take any game for granted and we can’t look at records . We got to come out and play , said Brittney Griner during a media conference call. ” Both Minnesota and us want to go out and put on the best game that we can play . It does not matter what the record is. It is going to be a really good high energy game , and going into tomorrow we are going to have to play really hard .”
Looking to help change the momentum in the rivalry for the Sparks to get a victory over the Lynx is the defensive play of Briann January, who was acquired in March from the Indiana Fever. The Fever have always been known for their great team defensive play and January was a huge part of that success.
“Coming from Indiana I know how your defense can help to spark the offense . If we are playing great defense, if we are not taking the ball out of the net every time that allows us some early offense,” said January. “We can push the ball down. We try to get early entries to BG and kickouts to BG so she can do her thing , and also we have the athleticism to get up and down the court. If we are able to get the stops we will get the easy buckets.”
January had this to say on the Sparks road to improvement on the defensive end of the basketball, “On the offensive end we have to learn how to play on the other end , I think we are getting better. It all is predicated on communication and then learning each other. We have so many weapons and we are able to switch the positions just because of the our size and overall athleticism. It is a little different for everybody, we are just getting a hold on that and we are getting better. I think every game we go out we are getting better and we are making adjustments. It is going to take some time though, but I know we will get to where we need to be.”
Briann has a unique opportunity this season as guard player to learn from one of the greats in Taurasi. She had this to say of the opportunity:
“Being around Diana has been awesome, it has been refreshing because she she reminds me of Tamika Catchings . Diana is one of the great leaders and one of the qualities they share is the fact that they are really there to encourage and get the most out of their teammates,” January said. “They show up every day and compete . They are true professionals, and they are out there and doing whatever they can to make the team successful . It has been awesome to feed off of her energy and even playing against her you can see how much of a competitor she was . To be on her side now , it gives you energy every single game . To get on the court and know that someone has your back and is willing to go to war with you it has been awesome. I am taking all of that and for me it is all about learning from new leaders and she is a great leader.”
The Lynx-Mercury rivalry has included a Semifinals matchup in five of the past seven seasons, with Minnesota winning four of those series. This season, the Mercury are determined to make another deep run in the playoffs. If history tells us anything, that will likely have to go through Minnesota.
“It’s been a rivalry for a long time,” Griner said. “This year I think we are loaded in all positions, we have a team that will force them to guard all of us. I think that is going to help us out when we go against them.”
Griner is going to be a force for the Sparks this season, as the center will look to make a splash after recovering from a leg injury. She especially is looking forward to going up against fellow center Silvia Fowles in a battle of the true Centers of the League.
“You go down you gotta recover. I have kinda just pushed that to the side . This season I am trying to not do what I did last season and mess with my game,” said Griner. “I am just going in and I am going to play as hard as I can . I always enjoy the matchup against Silvia , so I am just ready to play against one of the true centers of the league , so that is what I am looking forward too. “
On the rivalry against Minnesota Griner had this to say, “It’s been a rivalry for a long time. This year I think we are loaded in all positions, we have a team that will force them to guard all of us. I think that is going to help us out when we go against them.”
It will be a fun game to watch, so fans are encouraged to catch all of the action tonight on ESPN2 and enjoy the energy, excitement and overall amazing play that is the WNBA.
Lynx: PG—Whalen, SG—Augustus, SF—Moore, PF—Brunson, C—Fowles
Mercury: PG—January, SG—Taurasi, SF—Bonner, PF—Lyttle, C—Griner
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