wnba

Sparks take on Mystics in final game at Long Beach this season

The Sparks and the Mystics are both winless so far in the regular season.

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The Los Angeles Sparks are still looking for their first win of the regular season.

Coming into their house (in this case, the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach) is a team also looking for their first W in the Washington Mystics.

The Mystics aren’t exactly the team from five years ago when they won the WNBA championship. Elena Delle Donne is sitting out the season as she thinks about her future in basketball. Longtime Mystics guard Natasha Cloud signed with the Phoenix Mercury in the offseason. So they won’t have the two main cogs of the team that had been mainstays for D.C.

Washington did get Stefanie Dolson in the offseason as well as ol’ friend Karlie Samuelson. They also added Julie Vanloo from the Belgium national team. And they drafted Aaliyah Edwards from UConn with the sixth overall pick in the draft. Still, they are off to an 0-3 start and, like the Sparks, are hunting down that elusive win.

It’d be foolish to ignore the talents of these Mystics. The talented Ariel Atkins is still there, leading the team in scoring at 15.7 points per. Shakira Austin (probable for Tuesday) will fight players for boards whenever, wherever. Aaliyah Edwards is off to a decent start (7.0 points, 4.3 rebounds per game) to her WNBA career. But it is unfortunate that another ex-Spark Brittney Sykes (Slim!) is out due to an ankle injury.

The Mystics put up a lot of threes (26.7 attempts per game is fifth in the league). Samuelson is shooting a ridiculous .471 from behind the arc in nearly six threes per contest. Atkins is at .368 with over six attempts per and we know what Big Mama Stefanie Dolson did to the Sparks last season.

Plus the Mystics have come close in each of their three games. The Liberty, the Sun, and the Storm all had to come back from fourth quarter deficits to win. So Washington was really in all of those games.

That’s what the Sparks have to watch out for. Both of their losses came from untimely droughts. The Dream ran off 11 straight against L.A. in the fourth quarter. Then in the second game, Vegas ended the first half with a 17-1 stampede. This absolutely cannot happen; the Sparks need to keep filling the pool with water.

It hasn’t completely shown in the defensive stats (the Sparks are second-to-last in defensive rating) but Cameron Brink has been terrifying inside the paint (five blocks against the Aces). We all know her foul troubles but if she can stay on the court, it would be a boon for the Sparks.

Dearica Hamby is averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds in her first two games while Kia Nurse could potentially be the most underrated offseason signing with her production thus far (18.0 points per while shooting .583 from the field). Rickea Jackson has also gotten some buckets off the bench. There’s no question about the offensive talent but the Sparks have to find a way to keep producing points on the board.

Do all of that and the Sparks can break the ice for the regular season.