The Los Angeles Sparks take on the reigning WNBA championship team the Seattle Storm in the second round of the WNBA Playoffs at the Staples Center at 12:00P.M. on Sunday.
The Sparks could be favored to win the match up based off their 2-1 record during the season. The two victories were home wins and defense was also a major key. Guard Jordin Canada was held to under her average of 9.8 points per game.
“She’s a quicker guard, I try to give her space or deny her from catching the ball,” said Sparks guard Tierra Ruffin-Pratt said. “They usually can’t get into their offense in good timing if she does not have it to start them off.”
Seattle can contest with their accurate shooting, forward Alysha Clark shoots at 48 percent from behind the arc, guard Sami Whitcomb shoots at 34 percent in threes. To get ahead of the Sparks, the Storm must refuse them from scoring and initiate the tempo.
“When our defense is going that’s when our offense is going,” said Seattle forward Natasha Howard. “That’s one thing we have to do coming out.”
Howard recently became the 2019 Defensive Player of the Year, coming in fourth in the league in points per game (81.1), second in blocks with 1.7 per game and second in steals (2.2). Sparks center Chiney Ogwumike is a long-time opponent of Howard’s and is happy her hard work is being recognized.
“Her talent is undeniable, she’s one of those people that can just play anywhere and everywhere,” Ogwumike said. “So, it poses a big challenge for us.”
Now that the entire Sparks roster is healthy, they have more depth than most teams. Seattle head coach Dan Hughes noted how Fisher meshed the team well after they returned from injury.
“They were on a mission to understand how to play well with each other,” Hughes said. “Their depth is very, very good.”
The bye week brings rest to the Sparks, but the lack of competitive gameplay could cause Los Angeles to have a slow start in the matchup. Yet, the bye helped guard Chelsea Gray and forward Nneka Ogwumike recuperate from a season where they had to put in the extra effort while others were sidelined.
“In a single-game elimination format, I think that poses different challenges to being really ready to compete as soon as the game starts,” Fisher said.
Seattle guard Jordin Canada believes that starting the game with force would help them to secure a second-round win. Canada scored 26 points in their first-round win over the Minnesota Lynx.
“We have to come out and be aggressive from jump and plan our game,” Canada said. “The Sparks, they like to load up on one side and I think if we just move the ball, play with pace, we’ll be at e much better position.”