Los Angeles, CA – Minutes before tipoff in Los Angeles, the Atlanta Dream, who own the worst record in the WNBA, did the unthinkable: they defeated Las Vegas, who is fighting for a number three seed along with Los Angeles. One would wonder if the Sparks did a little scoreboard watching right before they were set to battle against Seattle. A win would all but secure the number three seed, and very well likely avoid playing Washington until the Finals if they get that far. That seemed to be more than enough juice for yet another dominant performance in a 102-68 win guarantees them the three seed for the playoffs.
“We knew the final score once we stepped on the court,” Sydney Weise said. “But we knew that nothing would matter if we didn’t get the job done tonight. Once we stepped on the court we knew that it was back to business with everything on the back of our minds.”
Seattle also needed a win to stick around for a five or six seed that would guarantee them a home game for the first round. However, it seemed like they couldn’t keep up with a full Sparks lineup that had Nneka Ogwumike back. Leading by six after the first, it was one score after another from just about everyone. Starting with Maria Vadeeva who drilled back to back buckets, her shots ignited a number of fast break opportunities that put the Sparks up by double digits by halftime. The onslaught continued in the second half as the lead got bigger as the minutes ticked down.
Even with Candace Parker leading the way in scoring with 20 points, nobody noticed since five players reached double figures. Combined with 55 percent shooting and 26 assists, the Sparks are more and more proving that they are a very dangerous team when playing at home now with a 14-2 record with one more home game to go.
“We are a dangerous team when we are all together,” Wiese said. “Tonight goes to show the adversity we showed on the court when we are a complete team, and this is what we need to show when we are in the playoffs.”
Minnesota comes to town Sunday to close out the season, but it now becomes a matter of how to strategize for next week. With Nneka sidelined Tuesday due to fatigue, rest could be on the minds of the Sparks as they prepare for the postseason. Either way, a win in the second round could very well mean a pick-your poison, facing either Connecticut or Washington with a combined 27-4 home record. The Sun have a far worse road record at 8-8, but with the Sparks finishing below .500 away from Staples Center, they seem to be OK with having their first playoff game where they play best.
“The playoffs are a different feel no doubt,” Parker said. “Individually we have done a lot of things that have certainly got us here. It is unfortunate that we aren’t the top two seeds, but none of that matters if we don’t fix things that put us in the loss column knowing that one game could be it for us, or for anyone.”