In their first game back from the All-Star break, an almost complete Sparks team is ready to take on the Las Vegas Aces.
After spending the majority of the first half of the season on the road, the Sparks are back at home following the All-Star break as they open a four-game homestand against the Las Vegas Aces.
The Sparks had been shorthanded with injuries and suspensions throughout July but maintained a 5-2 record with some big wins over the Washington Mystics and Atlanta Dream.
The fourth-place Sparks have been dealing with creating consistent chemistry and rhythm amidst having players in and out of games. For a stretch of games, the Sparks competed with just 7-8 players all while continuing to have some balance in scoring and energy every night.
In practice this week, it was the first time that the team has had a full roster participating in activities since the preseason.
“It almost felt a little crowded to have a few extra bodies, not extra bodies, but getting close to having all of our players being out there and available,” Sparks head coach Derek Fisher said.
Fisher also told media on Wednesday that he believed that he would have at least 10 players available against the Las Vegas Aces.
Candace Parker (ankle), Alexis Jones (knee), and Maria Vadeeva (knee) were on the practice floor this week and are nearing returns as their status for today’s game is probable. Alana Beard (hamstring) is listed as doubtful as her progress is being evaluated day-to-day.
Riquna Williams is still out as she is serving her 10-game suspension.
Season series with the Aces
Going into tonight’s matchup, the season series between the two teams is tied 1-1. The Sparks were victorious in their last home game against the Aces, beating them 86-74.
With the season series tied, it is imperative for the Sparks to win every game the rest of the way to get within good positioning for the postseason. The Sparks currently sit in fourth place just 2.5 games behind the Aces and Connecticut Sun. The Sparks are also a half-game behind the Washington Mystics.
What to look forward to
Las Vegas has been a team on a hot streak as they are 7-1 in their last eight games. Los Angeles is looking to halt that streak in tonight’s meeting.
Revisiting their last meeting with the Aces in Los Angeles, the Sparks maintained a physicality against the Aces. Most notably, Sparks rookie Kalani Brown welcomed the challenge of going against the Aces center Liz Cambage. Brown’s mindset in their July 7th game was that she was not going to get walked all over.
“Don’t get bullied, you bully them,” Brown said to The Suave Report after Monday’s practice about dealing with bigger post players like Cambage.
“It’s going to be physical [and] it’s going to be tough. Vegas is a great team so you got to get your mind right.”
At the top of the list for the Sparks against the Aces is transition defense. The Aces are a team that loves to get out and run in transition so keeping up with them is a big priority for the Sparks.
“The commitment to sprinting back on defense, that has to be at the top of our minds,” Fisher told The Suave Report.
On the offensive end, continuing to share and move the ball leads to an abundance of opportunities for good shots and plays. The intricacies of the offense, on and off the ball, help the team overall. Fisher noted that the team’s field goals and 22 assists as something that he was proud of the team for in the win against Atlanta.
Against the Aces, that is something that also important for the Sparks so that they are able to have success in the game.
Los Angeles is looking to improve their home record to 6-2 while extending their current win streak to five games.
Tonight’s game will take place at 7:00 p.m. PT on ESPN2.