wnba

Sparks face Minnesota Lynx to start three-game home stand

John Panganiban-The Sporting Tribune
The Sparks have lost five straight games to the Lynx, dating back to the 2022 season.

LOS ANGELES — The Sparks (2-6) are back from a three-game road trip. They went one up and two down away from Los Angeles and are going to have a little stay at Crypto.Com Arena for the next three games.

First on the guest list? The Minnesota Lynx, who are off to an excellent 6-2 start. And this game will also be part of the Commissioner’s Cup. Thus far, the Sparks are 0-1 after their loss to the Mercury last Sunday.

When thinking about the Lynx, one immediately thinks about Napheesa Collier, the do-it-all 6’1” forward that gets it done on both ends. Collier is unquestionably the first option for Minnesota, averaging 21.4 points and 11.3 rebounds to go along with 1.8 blocks and 2.5 steals per game. It’s hard to argue against her being a Top 5 player in the league.

Supplementing the scoring in Minnesota is the steady Kayla McBride (16.0 PPG). She’s shooting a ridiculous .491 from three in nearly seven attempts per game.

In the offseason, they added Alanna Smith and Courtney Williams from Chicago. Both have provided inside-outside scoring that keeps defenders honest. Smith has also provided some rim protection while Williams (along with free agent signing Natisha Hiedeman) has increased the defensive pressure on the perimeter.

Dual Lynx executive/head coach Cheryl Reeve had defense in mind going into the 2024 season. Their aggressiveness has put them first in steals and second in blocks. Minnesota is currently third in defensive rating.

And they have weapons offensively to complement the defense. Three-pointers have been huge for the Lynx as they are far and away leading the league in percentage at .386.

As far as the Sparks go, the story has been the same the last few games. Turnovers continue to plague them; they still lead the league in that department. And they still go through long scoring droughts. All part of the growing pains the Sparks have to go through.

The good news for Los Angeles is that Layshia Clarendon is expected to make their return to the line-up after a head injury. Lexie Brown was also not listed in the injury report so she seems to be good to go.

Dearica Hamby continues to hold it all together for Los Angeles (20.9 points, 11.6 rebounds per game). It’s also about the growth of Cameron Brink, who was selected to the USA Basketball 3×3 Women’s National Team, and Rickea Jackson, who made strides as a starter for the team. While the team may not win as much, it’s paramount for the Sparks to develop those two.

It’s another test for the Sparks at Crypto. The Lynx own a five-game win streak against the Sparks. Maybe Wednesday night is the night the Sparks can break the hex.

The Sporting Tribune’s Fredo Cervantes contributed to this report.