By Kimberly Paschal | Sports Editor

The Lynx defeated the Sparks to become WNBA Champions. (Courtesy of Getty Images)

The 2017 WNBA Finals definitely did not disappoint. With the Los Angeles Sparks and the Minnesota Lynx in a rematch of the 2016 Finals, the Lynx were looking for redemption, while the Sparks were looking to be the first team to win back-to-back championships. The rematch between the two teams is also the first time the WNBA Finals and the NBA Finals saw a rematch of both teams in the same season. The Sparks took a 2-1 lead, but the Lynx battled to push the best of five series to a fifth game. On Oct. 4, 2017, the Lynx defeated the Sparks 85-76 to become the 2017 WNBA Champions and win the franchise’s fourth WNBA championship in seven years.

Game One began with pure domination by the Sparks. At one point  in the first, they held a 28-2 lead. With Candace Parker in foul trouble, the Lynx slowly chipped away. The Lynx cut the score to 78-66 in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter. Then, with just 6.5 seconds left, Minnesota took an 84-83 lead. Even so, the Lynx could not stop a pull-up jumper by Chelsea Gray that dropped in with two seconds left, and Minnesota fell 85-84. Parker finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds for the Sparks, while Gray dropped a career-high of 27 points.

Game Two started with the Lynx holding a 28-10 lead after the first quarter. Although the Sparks outscored the Lynx 24-15 in the third, it was not enough. The Lynx defeated the Sparks 70-68. With the series tied 1-1, the Lynx travelled to Los Angeles.

The Sparks downed the Lynx 75-64 to take a 2-1 series lead. With only one more win needed, the Sparks felt pretty confident they would finish the Lynx off at home. But the Lynx had other plans.

Minnesota came out in beast mode for game four with a strong 80-69 victory. With the series now tied 2-2 and the Lynx holding home court advantage, head coach Cheryl Reeve felt confident in her team: “We wanted first place for a reason because we think that the odds are with you if you have three home games and we should expect that it will go five games.”

Game Five did not go how the Sparks had planned. Nneka Oguwmike fouled out midway through the fourth quarter, leaving the Sparks without a big presence on the court. Sylvia Fowles scored 17 points and broke her own WNBA finals record with 20 rebounds. The Lynx capitalized off of 17 turnovers by the Sparks. Maya Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds. With 26 seconds left in the game, she hit a huge runner that put the Lynx up 81-76. Missed opportunities plagued the Sparks, and they went on to fall 85-76 to the Lynx.

Many are comparing this budding Lynx-Sparks matchup to the Celtics-Lakers rivalry. ESPN reported that viewership was up 24 percent from last year. With many NBA players advocating for the WNBA and the budding Lynx-Sparks rivalry, the WNBA can see an increase in fans in future seasons. With their fourth and newest trophy, the Minnesota Lynx are now tied with the now nonexistent Houston Comets for the most WNBA Championships in league history. This year’s WNBA MVP, Sylvia Fowles, broke a few WNBA records with the Lynx’s championship win. She became the seventh player to win league MVP and a WNBA title in the same season. She also became the fourth player to win multiple Finals MVP trophies. Rebekkah Brunson won her fifth WNBA title and is now the most decorated player in WNBA history. When asked about where the Lynx fall in history, UConn alum Maya Moore said: “Watching the Comets, some classic battles, New York, then Detroit had their run, watching the Storm. Then I get a chance to be a part of just an unbelievable group of players over these last few years. It’s just hard to compare.”

With back-to-back exciting WNBA Finals match ups, this is definitely a league for basketball fans to keep their eye on.

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