On Thursday, the Los Angeles Sparks will visit the Target Center for the first game of the best-of-three Western Conference finals against the Minnesota Lynx. It promises to be the marquee series of the entire season. Of course, there's the finals after this one, but the Sparks and Lynx are the two most decorated teams in the league. As the Star Tribune notes, the Sparks have a considerable amount of hype surrounding them, despite finishing second in the conference behind the Lynx.
That's likely due to the star power in Los Angeles. Canadace Parker was named the player of the month in the West four times out of a possible five this season. Teammate Kristi Toliver won the award in August, while Parker notched five player of the week titles as well. There's a lot of offensive firepower to go around.
Usually, the Lynx would be favored to win for a number of reasons. On one hand, they're no slouches when it comes to scoring and on the other, they're a great rebounding team with the ability to stifle offenses with superior schemes and a strong defensive roster. On the other hand, they may not be as favored due to the injury concerns surrounding Lindsay Whalen.
Whalen is the Lynx's star player, and she's nursing a broken finger (suffered at the London Olympics) and a bruised left wrist (her non-shooting hand), which she suffered in the first quarter of the team's win over Seattle on Tuesday. She came back and gutted that game out to seal the 73-72 win and isn't likely to miss time in the conference finals, but stemming the offensive tide of the Sparks could be a tougher challenge than usual.