Sparks face Chicago Sky in big game with playoff implications

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Sparks currently hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the Chicago Sky in the standings.

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks are back home after a little two-game road trip. L.A. defeated the Dream in Atlanta to extend their winning streak to 6 games. But that streak came to an end two nights later when they lost to the Connecticut Sun.

So the 15-19 Sparks look to start a new win streak. As mentioned, they are back at the comforts of Crypto Dot Com Arena as they face the Chicago Sky. On the same day the Sparks lost to the Sun, Chicago defeated the Seattle Storm to up their record to 14-21. So this faceoff on Tuesday night is going to be huge.

The Sky also hold a 2-1 season series lead against the City of Angels. The Sparks drew first blood with a win at home on June 9th. And then the Sparks played in Chicago for two games in three nights. On June 28th, the Sky were in control for most of the game in a 17-point win. It was almost the same thing two nights later though the Sparks had a late rally before it was shut down by the Sky. Jordin Canada didn’t play in the second half of that game and Courtney Williams for Chicago got a triple-double.

Still, the Sky have struggled since those two wins against L.A. Coinciding with that struggle was James Wade surprisingly leaving his posts as head coach and general manager of the Sky to take an assistant coaching position with the Toronto Raptors in the NBA. Emre Vatansever has taken over both gigs since but it hasn’t translated to wins for the Sky.

But records aside, the Sky remain a dangerous team. 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper is capable of a 30-point night. Courtney Williams can hurt you in many ways. Dana Evans is a spitfire off the bench and does damage on both sides of the court. Marina Mabrey gets buckets. Unfortunately for the Sky, they’re going to miss Alanna Smith due to concussion protocol. But Chicago has some talent and it’d be foolish to overlook a team that is trying to knock L.A. off the 8th spot.

The Sparks had turnover problems against the Sky in their second game against them. With L.A. a lot more confident and healthy, though, Chicago will be facing a different Sparks team this time around. Still, they can’t let the Sky run away from the scoreboard like the previous two games. L.A.’s problems on the offense reared its ugly head against the Sun and while the Sparks can defend as well as anyone out there, they’re going to have to score points to keep up.

A Sky win here would put them within a half-game of the Sparks and a 3-1 season series win. However, a Sparks win would give them a 2 1/2-game lead over the Sky and with five games to go, that almost seems insurmountable. Needless to say, this is a huge game that the Sparks have to win in order to get them closer to the 8th and final playoff spot in a “building year”, according to head coach Curt Miller.

It would also stop another streak: a two-year playoff drought for the Sparks.