September 13, 2020 

Sparks finish with third seed after loss to Aces

The 2020 WNBA Playoffs begin Sept. 15

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Te’a Cooper #4 of the Los Angeles Sparks handlesthe ball against the Las Vegas Aces on September 12, 2020 at Feld EntertainmentCenter in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via GettyImages)

With the Los Angeles Sparks’ loss to the Washington Mystics on Thursday, the Sparks needed to beat the Las Vegas Aces on Saturday, and hope for an Aces loss to the Seattle Storm on Sunday to secure the second seed in the WNBA playoffs.

The Sparks weren’t able to take care of things on their end as they fell to the Aces, 84-70. Even with the loss, however, they assured themselves no lower than the third seed with the first round of the postseason set to tip-off this coming Tuesday. With a top-four seed, the Sparks will get a bye into the second round.

Although the Sparks ended the season on their first consecutive losing streak of the year, head coach Derek Fisher believes the team has done some things well to give him a little bit of encouragement heading into the postseason.

“The things that have worked for us, when we’re playing together, sharing the basketball and moving it, we tend to play better and more efficiently,” Fisher said. “We’ve shot the ball really well this year at good percentages and been a fairly efficient team. If we can kind of recharge our batteries a little bit, I think that’s something we can do. We’ve been really good defensively most of the season…being able to rely on that end of the floor is something we need to continue to understand that’s how we’re going to get it done.”

Although the Sparks have been an overall efficient offensive team this season, they struggled to score for much of the afternoon. They only managed 35 points in the first half while giving up 43, and they were held to only 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Part of their offensive woes, particularly from the outside, can be attributed to the injuries to Sydney Wiese and Tierra Ruffin-Pratt who are shooting 47.2 percent and 46.2 percent respectively from the three-point line. As a team, the Sparks went 5-22 from the three against the Aces.

Getting the entire team back healthy is key according to Nneka Ogwumike, who believes that’s one of the first steps in the Sparks being at their best.

“For one, everyone’s healthy…generally I think we’re at our best when we’re getting stops, when we bring the energy to the game, when the ball is moving, when our bodies are moving, just very fluid basketball,” Ogwumike said. “I think that one thing about our team is that we’re not very predictable when it comes to plays and reads. We have a very deep bench, that’s something that we really lean into in the postseason…That would be really great for us to be able to get that rest and get everybody back comfortable into the rotation.”

For Candace Parker, she feels like the team’s journey is just getting started. The regular season was just a tune-up for the real season now.

“I feel like the season’s just beginning. The regular season is great, but that’s not what you play for,” Parker said. “I think overall we got better, especially with the situation…my only wish is to be healthy going into postseason. We’re going to do our job to try to get better over these next three or four days to put ourselves in a great position going into the postseason because that’s what you play for.”

David has been with The Next team since the High Post Hoops days when he joined the staff in 2018. He is based in Los Angeles and covers the LA Sparks, Pac-12 Conference, Big West Conference and some high school as well.

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