The Minnesota Lynx welcome the Los Angeles Sparks to Minneapolis on Saturday in the first meeting between the teams of the 2021 season, with Commissioner’s Cup implications at stake as well.
Minnesota (3-5), winless in its first four games of the campaign, ripped off three straight wins before dropping an 85-81 decision Tuesday at Washington.
Napheesa Collier — who missed the season’s first three games while undergoing mandatory quarantine after her return from playing with Lattes Montpellier in France — finished with 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals against the Mystics.
Minnesota was hurt by three turnovers from Collier, four from Sylvia Fowles and five from Kayla McBride. The Lynx’s top three leading scorers contributed to the team’s 21 total giveaways in the loss.
Minnesota now heads into Saturday’s meeting with Los Angeles averaging 15.1 turnovers per game, fourth most in the WNBA.
“We kind of got sticky when we’d drive into the lane, instead of getting it out when they’d trap us,” Collier said, adding Washington’s collapsing defense made the Lynx force plays.
They can expect more of the same against a Los Angeles defense that ranks second in the WNBA with 8.5 steals per game. Erica Wheeler, Nia Coffey and Brittney Sykes each account for at least 1.4 of those takeaways per contest.
The Sparks (4-4) have generated the most turnovers of any team in the league, with opponents averaging 20.3 per game.
Los Angeles won the turnover battle 12-11 on Thursday at Washington but struggled to contain the inside-outside combination of Tina Charles and Ariel Atkins. Their 43 combined points powered the Mystics to an 89-71 victory.
The defeat ended the Sparks’ modest two-game winning streak and a run of four victories in the previous five games.
Over that stretch, Los Angeles allowed just one opponent to score more than 69 points.
“The most I can do is control my attitude from effort, from energy,” Sykes said after the defeat to the Mystics. “It sounds cliche, but it’s so true. For me to be upset tomorrow, the next day or the next day about it, that’s not gonna do anything. We’ve got a game Saturday and some more games after that.
“We can’t get hung up on this. We’ve just got to watch this, learn from it and build on it.”
–Field Level Media