Sparks get Aces in last game before All-Star break

The Sparks will try to end their 5-game losing streak as they head for the All-Star Weekend.

LOS ANGELES — The 7-12 Los Angeles Sparks have to be relieved to get some extra rest after Wednesday as the WNBA All-Star break happens this weekend.

Of course, the problem is that they have to face the 18-2 Las Vegas Aces at Crypto Dot Com Arena before they get that respite. A game against the defending champions sounds anything other than relaxing.

The Aces have already defeated the Sparks twice this season. L.A. had a valiant effort in their second game of the season but was crushed in the very next game as Vegas celebrated getting their championship rings.

I just mentioned that they’re 18-2 and the defending champions so it’s needless to say that the Las Vegas Aces are fully loaded. A’ja Wilson is a two-time Most Valuable Player award winner. Jackie Young won the Most Improved Player award last season. Kelsey Plum won Sixth Woman of the Year in 2021 and won All-Star Game MVP last year. Chelsea Gray won WNBA Finals MVP last season. All of these four women are all-stars this season.

And the funniest thing is that they also have Candace Parker, who is only one of the greatest of all-time in the sport. It’s ridiculous.

Now the Aces aren’t totally invincible; they did lose a close one against Dallas last Friday. But they are on top (or close to it) in just about every major category. They lead the league in offensive rating, defensive rating, net rating (by a mile!), scoring, field goal percentage, blocks, points in the paint, and have the fewest turnovers.

I’m not saying the Sparks don’t have a chance, either; they took it to them in their first match-up. Of course, the problem is that L.A. continues to be ravaged with injuries. The good news is that Karlie Samuelson is available after a one-game absence. Dearica Hamby is listed as probable so that brings their roster back up to 9 players.

The Sparks could also take advantage of the Aces being possibly fatigued. Las Vegas did play against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. In fact, this will be the Aces’ third game in four nights and that’s with some travel (they played in Minnesota on Sunday). That wears on any team, no matter how good they are.

L.A. could go into the break with some positivity as they are mired in a 5-game losing streak. It’s a tough ask to beat a team that has won 90 percent of their games so far. But hey, games aren’t won on paper and even if the Sparks are in this slide, we’ve seen what this team is capable of, even when shorthanded.

And the Aces know they’re going to be in for a fight against the Los Angeles Sparks.