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Sparks’ next stop is Chicago where they face Reese, Sky

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
The Sparks hope to go 2-0 on this current road trip.

CHICAGO — The Sparks (2-4) came off a heck of a win over Caitlin Clark and the Fever in Indiana.

Their next stop on this expedition? It will be in Chicago where Angel Reese and the Sky await.

The Chicago Sky (2-3) are a much different team than the one that won the championship in 2021. Only two players from that squad are in that current team and even then, DIamond DeShields left beforehand before she came back to Chicago in the offseason.

It was also the Sky that helped prevent the Sparks from making the postseason last year after defeating them in a huge game in Los Angeles.

Like the Sparks, the Sky have two prized rookies of their own. Kamilla Cardoso, the third overall pick of the 2024 WNBA Draft, has yet to play due to a shoulder injury. But Reese, the seventh overall pick, has already made a huge impact. Reese leads the league in offensive rebounds, in addition to scoring 12.0 points per game.

With Kahleah Copper off to Phoenix, Marina Mabrey has shouldered much of the offensive burden. She’s averaging 16.8 points per while shooting .351 from three in over seven attempts per contest. Dana Evans, the only player that stayed with the Sky since that title year, has seen her role increase over time. She’s averaging 12.0 points and 4.2 assists while starting all five games.

Elizabeth Williams is a problem on the defensive end (2.0 steals, 1.8 blocks per game). Former Spark Chennedy Carter, who didn’t play last year in the league, is having quite a start to this campaign (10.2 points per game off the bench). DeShields, Lindsay Allen, and former Rookie of the Year winner Michaela Onyenwere round out the rotation.

The Sky are last in defensive rebounding. Funny enough, the Sparks are dead last in offensive boards. So something has to give here.

As for the Sparks, it was encouraging to see Kia Nurse and Aari McDonald explode offensively (43 combined points) against the Fever on Tuesday. Coach Curt Miller has gone to a bench rotation of Li Yueru, Aari McDonald, Zia Cooke, and Stephanie Talbot. Rae Burrell also came in on Tuesday to play big minutes.

Dearica Hamby (20.0 points and 12.7 rebounds per game) continues to have a superb season as she has had double-doubles in five of six games.

“My teammates, GM and coaches are all just feeding me confidence, giving me direction to help lead for this team so I’m just happy I’m able to come out to have the mentality to do that,” Hamby said.

Los Angeles continues to have problems with taking care of the ball as they still commit the most turnovers in the league. But if they can keep that down and rebound the ball, the Sparks should be okay against the Sky.

Lastly, assistant coach Nola Henry will take over head coaching duties for Thursday night as Sparks head coach Curt Miller will be inducted into the Mid-American Conference Hall of Fame. Miller will be the first women’s basketball coach to be honored.

And with that, both teams will contest for their third victory of the season on Thursday night.

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