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Sparks' First Look

August 27, 2003|Mike Terry

A look at the matchups in the Sparks' best-of-three series against Minnesota:

GUARDS -- Nikki Teasley and Tamecka Dixon vs. Katie Smith and Teresa Edwards. The Teasley-Edwards duel is a harmonic convergence of past, present and future. At 39, Edwards (5.3 points, 4.4 assists) is playing in her first WNBA season and playoffs. But she has played on five Olympic teams and was considered a quintessential point guard in the 1980s and '90s. In her second season, Teasley (11.5 points, 6.3 assists) has become one of the league's best point guards, although she sometimes lags on defense. Smith (18.2 points, 4.1 rebounds) can be unstoppable when she gets hot. Dixon (13.7 points, 4.1 rebounds) can score, but usually stays within the Sparks' offensive flow. Advantage: Even.

FORWARDS -- DeLisha Milton and Mwadi Mabika vs. Svetlana Abrosimova and Tamika Williams. Milton (13.4 points, 7.1 rebounds) will give the Sparks offense on the inside and outside, but her greater value is on defense. She can lock up any position except the point, and may have to take on Smith if the Lynx guard has her shot going. Mabika (13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds) will have her hands full with Abrosimova (10.6 points, 4.7 rebounds), who plays some of her best games against the Sparks. In the last few games, however, Mabika's chronically sore knees have stopped hurting, and her jump shot is again a thing of beauty. Williams (8.9 points, 6.1 rebounds) is not a big scorer, but at 6 feet 2, 205 pounds, she's formidable in the low post. Advantage: Sparks.

CENTER -- Lisa Leslie vs. Janelle Burse. Leslie (18.4 points, 10 rebounds) has a shot at being the league most valuable player despite having missed 11 games after the All-Star game because of a knee injury. Burse (7.1 points, 3.7 rebounds) can match Leslie in height but not in production. Advantage: Sparks.

COACHES -- Michael Cooper vs. Suzie McConnell Serio. Cooper has kept the Sparks playing at a high level since he took over the team four seasons ago. McConnell Serio is in her first year with Minnesota. She guided the Lynx to their first playoff berth but it remains to be seen if she can inspire them to raise their game for a short series. Advantage: Sparks.

Analysis -- The Lynx should be celebrating their first winning season and playoff berth in franchise history. Their reward, however, is the toughest matchup they could get, considering the Sparks have beaten them 16 consecutive times.

Prediction -- Sparks in two.

-- Mike Terry

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