Time to get pumped, people! The 2015 WNBA finals are starting this Sunday, Oct. 4, and as always they promise to be exciting in the extreme. This is naturally also a great time for anyone who isn't normally a women's basketball fan to give the sport a try and see how they like it. Because if the finals can't convince you how awesome the WNBA is, nothing will, right? So naturally, if you are a newbie going into the finals, there are a few things you should know.
The WNBA doesn't get as much attention as its male counterpart, which is a shame. Founded in 1996, the league has struggled over the years to stay visable, but it has slowly grown from eight teams at the founding to 12 teams today. And even though it doesn't get nearly as much ESPN screen time or as much attention from sports commentators, it still has a dedicated fan base — and it's easy to see why. The league and its players are pretty amazing.
So if you're a newbie WNBA viewer and you want to tune into the final, what are the things you should know going in? Don't worry — I've got you covered. You just break out the drinks and snacks and get ready to watch.
Who Are The Teams?
The Indiana Fever were the number three seed going to the playoffs, but they still weren't favored to make it to the finals. Nevertheless, they managed to beat both the Chicago Sky and the New York Liberty, ranked number two and number one in the Eastern conference respectively, and became Eastern conference champions and a surprisingly strong contender for the final.
The team is known for their skilled and tough defense, and for rarely turning over the ball. They had a new head coach this year, Stephanie White, who is the youngest head coach in WNBA, but she's shown herself to be more than capable of handling the team.
This is the Lynx's fourth finals in five years, and they won the championship in 2011 and 2013. They were the number one seed in the Western conference this year, so it's no surprise they've once again made it to the finals. The team has struggled with injuries this season, but they certainly look strong going into the finals.
Interestingly, the Lynx and the Fever also played in the 2015 final, with Indiana winning the title; many of the top players are still the same on both teams, too, meaning this match has a definite sense of deja vu to it. Will history repeat itself with an Indiana victory? Or will the Lynx have their revenge?
Who Are The Players To Watch?
There are a lot of very talented players on both teams — if there weren't, they obviously wouldn't have made it this far. But here are a couple of players from each team to keep your eye on as you watch.
Catchings is a forward for the Fever, a 10-time All Star, and a long-time star in general. She has an impressive list of awards and records behind her, and she leads her team well — as their 2012 championship and their recent, unexpected victory over New York can attest. Watching her play is always enjoyable.
January, a point guard for the Fever, was the team's third leading scorer during their championship 2012 season, and is one of the best defensive players in the league this year. Keep your eye on her during the final.
Forward Maya Moore was the number one draft pick in 2011 and has been a key part of the Minnesota Lynx ever since. In the conference against the Mercury she scored 40 points, including the game-winning free throw. She's a relentless force to be reckoned with on the court and a treat to watch.
Although Moore often steals the show on the team, Augustus is definitely a player worth paying attention to on the court as well. She been a guard and forward for the Lynx since 2006 and is impressive on both offense and defense.
So How Do The Finals Work?
The WNBA finals are a "best of five" series, so the two teams will play three to five games. The first game will be on Sunday.
How Can You Watch?
If there were any justice in this world, the WNBA finals would be a primetime event on ESPN and given as much time, attention, and on-air hype as the men's finals, but alas, we do not live in that world. So how can you watch? Well, the good news is that the finals are broadcast. The first game will be on ABC, and the rest of the games, no matter how many there are, will be broadcast on ESPN2. You can also watch both channels live online through their websites here and here, if you'd rather stream the games online.
The full schedule is as follows:
Game 1: Sunday, Oct. 4 at 3 p.m.
Game 2: Tuesday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m.
Game 3: Friday, Oct. 9 at 8 p.m.
Game 4: Sunday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. (If Necessary)
Game 5: Wednesday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. (If Necessary)
Happy viewing, everyone!