The Los Angeles Sparks are playing some of their best basketball of the season, and will be rewarded with a first-round bye. The Minnesota Lynx, meanwhile, are doing the same and also hope to open the postseason at home.
Looking to secure a first-round home game, the visiting Lynx aim for a sixth straight victory in Sunday's regular-season finale against a Sparks team trying to extend its home-winning streak to 14 in a row.
L.A. (21-12) clinched the No. 3 seed in next week's playoff with a 102-68 victory over Seattle on Thursday. Coming with it, a first-round bye, meaning the Sparks will get a week to prepare for their first playoff opponent. It was also the second straight overall win and sixth in eight games for the Sparks, and 13th consecutive at home since losing to Washington there on June 18.
"We're having balance, having harmony," forward Chiney Ogwumike, who had 12 points off the bench as L.A. shot 54.7 percent, said via the Sparks' official Facebook page.
"I felt like this was just a good morale boosting type of win for us, especially this time of year."
Candace Parker had 20 points with nine rebounds and Nneka Ogwumike (16.2 points per game, 9.0 rebounds per game) added 14 with 10 boards for Los Angeles against the Storm. Parker (11.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) has totaled 41 points and 20 rebounds in the last two games. She had 20 with 10 boards in an 81-71 home victory over Minnesota on Aug. 20.
While it's uncertain how much time, if any, regulars like Parker will see in this contest, L.A. has a chance to complete a season sweep over Minnesota. However, the Lynx (18-15) are riding a season-high five-game winning streak and will keep the sixth seed for the playoffs - and a first-round home date versus Seattle - with a victory.
Should Minnesota lose Sunday and Seattle win at Dallas, the teams would be tied. The Storm, though, will then host the Lynx in the first round based on the defending WNBA champs owning the tiebreaker over Minnesota.
So, the Lynx control their destiny while trying to stay hot after winning 83-69 at Phoenix on Friday. Odyssey Sims scored 22 points and Sylvia Fowles had 11 points with 11 rebounds to move into second place on the WNBA's all-time rebounding list.
Sims (14.6 points per game) has averaged 20.7 points and shot 54.2 percent over the last three games. However, she's totaled just 18 points in the previous two games versus Los Angeles this season.