Los Angeles, CA — Game 1 of the WNBA Semifinals included two teams who have each gained the Championship title within the past three years, the Los Angeles Sparks and the Phoenix Mercury. The Sparks are trying to defend their 2016 Championship title while the Mercury is trying to regain their spot in the finals as they lost to the Minnesota Lynx during last season’s Semifinals.

Los Angeles swept Phoenix in their three games during the regular season, so expectations ran high for them to tally another win. Even though the Mercury held their own and fought tooth and nail with the defending champs, once again the Sparks came out on top, 79-66.

Los Angeles was coming off an eight-day break – resting the first two rounds of the WNBA playoffs as the No. 2 seed — and it showed in the first half with a sluggish start. Phoenix saw opportunities to take shots and followed through while the Sparks stood still.

“I think we were a little rusty obviously in the beginning,” stated the Sparks Candace Parker. “No excuse, you know, being off that many days obviously we prefer rest, but I think Nneka is right. Offensively, we weren’t very fluid, we weren’t moving the ball, we weren’t really pushing the ball in transition either. We only had four fast break points and that’s kind of unlike us.”

Two big reasons for an early lead by Phoenix came at the hands of Brittney Griner and Leilani Mitchell, who lead the team with 14 points combined in the opening frame. The two played a perfect tandem of an inside-outside scoring pattern to gain the advantage over Los Angeles, 23-19, going into the second stanza.

Read more (via Swishappeal.com)

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