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The WNBA Finals have been unpredictable. The deciding Game 5 could be anyone's

The Sparks and Lynx are ready for a winner-take-all showcase in the final game of the WNBA Finals. There’s so much at stake.

WNBA: Minnesota Lynx at Los Angeles Sparks Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

The WNBA Finals’ first four games have been more unpredictable than expected. The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks each won a game in the final minute on the road and blown the other out once at home. It’s been a wild stretch to a 2-2 tie, and the teams return to Minnesota on Thursday with a championship at stake.

No matter the games’ outcome, the WNBA and its fans are this season’s real winners. For the first time, playoff seedings were decided by best overall record regardless of conference. The Lynx finished the season 28-6, clinching the top spot, and the Sparks second, at 26-8. Only two other teams finished above .500. The two Western Conference teams were far and away the best, and the new rule gave them the opportunity to meet in the finals instead of earlier in the playoffs.

The road to this point has been long for both teams and with drama on and off the court since before the season even started. That means Game 5 will have some extra fire to it. If this is your first time tuning in, welcome! Also, you’ve missed a lot.

The Sparks were snubbed in April, weeks before the season started.

Team USA basketball coach Geno Auriemma cut the two leaders of the Sparks from Team USA’s Olympic roster: eventual WNBA MVP Nneka Ogwumike and, more surprisingly, Candace Parker. Some great players were bound to be left home, but Parker wasn’t thought to be in that discussion. She had just come off a 19-point, 10-rebound season, was the 2012 Olympic team’s top rebounder and is still in her prime.

Team USA won handily in Rio anyway, with one-third of the roster coming from the Minnesota Lynx. Both Parker and Ogwumike have scores to settle.

The teams made history in June.

The Lynx (12-0) and Sparks (11-0) were the first pair of teams with more than 10 wins without a loss to ever square off in the WNBA, MLB, NBA, NFL, or NHL. The game went down as one of the best of the regular season.

Tied at 69 with 7.5 seconds to go, Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve drew up a dynamite play. Lindsay Whalen drove baseline and found Renee Montgomery for a wide-open three-point shot to give the Lynx the lead.

With 2.6 seconds remaining, Minnesota intentionally fouled Parker to put her at the line, where she missed her first attempt. Down three points with 2.1 to go, she chucked the ball at the rim, grabbed her intentional miss and threw the ball to wide-open teammate Kristi Toliver, who sank a shot at the buzzer. Pandemonium!

But Tolliver knew right away that her foot was on the line and the shot was milliseconds late.

The Sparks got their revenge in Game 1 of the finals

Minnesota’s top-ranked defense had been sloppy all night in allowing L.A. easy backdoor looks all game, but their offense stayed true to form. Tied at 76, Sparks coach Brian Agler put the ball in backup guard Chelsea Gray’s hands. As she drove, Minnesota abandoned defensive specialist Alana Beard, who had scored just two points all game. Beard made them pay with an open look in the corner to win it.

Reeve calls Ogwumike the “league’s biggest flopper” on national TV.

Games 2 and 3 lacked the last-minute on-court drama of the other two. The Lynx dominated the boards to win Game 2, 79-60, and the Sparks won Game 3, 92-75, to put themselves a win away from the championship. But there was still plenty of entertainment off the court.

A questionable offensive foul call in Game 2 on Lynx center Sylvia Fowles left her coach, Reeve, in an uproar with the officials. ESPN had microphones on Reeve and Ogwumike, who drew the charge. That allowed fans to hear the trash talk that ensued. On four different occasions, Reeve referred to Ogwumike as the “biggest flopper in the league.”

Though Ogwumike didn’t take to social media to respond, her sister, Connecticut Sun guard Chiney, came to her defense.

The referees missed a huge call in Game 4

In last Sunday’s pivotal Game 4, the Sparks trailed by as many as 10 points in the third quarter. But behind Gray’s 20 points off the bench, L.A. fought back to within two with 30 seconds to go in the fourth. That led to a moment Sparks fans won’t soon forget.

Parker drove the ball towards the rim, but lost it off Rebekkah Brunson’s foot into the hands of Fowles. As Parker pressured them, the Lynx failed to get the ball into the frontcourt within eight seconds, but a backcourt violation wasn’t called. Instead, the Lynx found Brunson underneath the basket, and a clean block by Parker was ruled a shooting foul, sealing the win for Minnesota.

Renee Brown, the league’s Chief of Basketball Operations and Player Relations, said the officials got it wrong.

“After reviewing postgame video, we have determined that with 0:17.7 remaining in regulation time, Minnesota released the ball for a pass from the backcourt and the ball was still in the backcourt when the shot clock turned to 0:16,” she said in a statement. “An 8-second violation should have been called on Minnesota. This play is not a trigger to review via instant replay.”

If the Sparks fail to win Game 5, that missed call will go down in infamy.

Game 5 will be a historic finish to the league’s 20th season.

Each outcome has a great story. On one end, the Sparks can punctuate their franchise’s revival with their first title since 2002. On the other, the Lynx can become the first team to go back-to-back since that Sparks team in ‘02 and cement their status as a WNBA dynasty.

With three WNBA MVPs, the Defensive Player of the Year, the Sixth Woman of the Year, the Coach of the Year, and four Olympians on the court for a win-or-go-home championship game, Thursday night’s 8 p.m. game on ESPN2 is a must-watch.