The Los Angeles Sparks stopped the bleeding just in time as they defeated the Washington Mystics in the last home game of the regular season. The three-game losing streak came to an end and, coupled with the Sky losing on Sunday, the Sparks are back in the 8th playoff spot.
But the regular season overall is not finished yet. The Sparks’ final obstacle to the playoffs is a three-game trek. And that road trip starts on Tuesday against the Connecticut Sun.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Sparks faced the Sun; Connecticut did a number against L.A. on August 27th. In fact, it was the Sun that halted the Sparks’ 6-game winning streak. The Sun have actually defeated the Sparks in both of their match-ups this season.
In that second game, the Sparks were able to stay with Connecticut until the fourth quarter. The Sun defense got steelier (I promise that’s a word) the later the game went and the Sparks couldn’t keep their good fortune going.
The Sun players were also able to spread the offense as they had 6 players in double figs. Alyssa Thomas led everybody with a near-triple-double at 17 points, 10 boards, and 80 cents worth of assists (that’s 8 dimes, guys).
But something interesting could happen. As of now, there hasn’t been much of an injury report for the Sun other than little-used Bernadett Hatar. However, with the Sun locked in at the third playoff spot, will the Connecticut Sun sit out players?
The Sparks will, of course, prepare like they’ll face a full Connecticut squad and adjust accordingly should the Sun decide to rest their stars. And the Sparks have little room for error in these last three games. It’s especially going to be a tougher task if Nneka Ogwumike doesn’t suit up on Tuesday (she was a late scratch on Sunday). Nevertheless, the Sparks don’t make any excuses and they keep playing with a “next person up” mentality.
After a hot streak behind the line, the Sparks have only shot .282 from three in their last four games. It’s the lowest percentage in that period of time. Connecticut is among the best in terms of limiting their opponents from three; as of this writing, they’re actually second in that category. First place? The L.A. Sparks. If their last match-up was any indication, it’s going to be a defensive slugfest involving taking the ball away from each other multiple times and a lot of buckets in the trenches.
No matter who’s on the court, the Sparks have to do their best to neutralize them. As mentioned, the Sparks can’t afford to make too many mistakes as they control their own playoff destiny; winning out will give them that postseason berth. If the Sparks don’t fly too close to the Sun, they should be all right.
And it might get head coach Curt Miller his first win against his former team since he took the L.A. Sparks gig.