WNBA Preview 09-19-19: Los Angeles Sparks vs Connecticut Sun

Basketball Sports WNBA

615  Los Angeles Sparks    161.5   + 107

616  Connecticut Sun   – 1.5     – 127

The Connecticut Sun are off to a good start on what they hope is a special postseason.

They’ll look to go up 2-0 on the visiting Los Angeles Sparks when the clubs resume their best-of-five semifinal series on Thursday night.

Alyssa Thomas had 22 points with 10 rebounds and Jasmine Thomas added 19 for host and No. 2 seed Connecticut, which overcame a three-point halftime hole to take Game 1 of this semifinal 84-75 over third-seeded Los Angeles on Tuesday. It was the first playoff victory since 2012 for the Sun, who earned a double-bye into the semifinals after finishing 23-11 during the regular season.

“We’ve been working toward this all season,” Alyssa Thomas, who also added five assists and four steals, told The Associated Press. “Our first goal was to secure a top-two seed. Single-game elimination has not been good to us and we finally put ourselves in position where we can play a series … We’re more than ready. We’re hungry.”

The Sun have never won a WNBA title, and were last in the league final in 2005. Even with a strong regular season, some media pundits aren’t giving Connecticut much chance to finally claim that elusive title in 2019. That lack of faith seems to be at least part of what’s fueling the Sun during these playoffs, but their belief in each other could be what gets the job done.

“We can’t control what people think about us,” Jasmine Thomas said. “We can’t control what people say. But how we believe in ourselves in this locker room is what we feed of. It’s what makes us special.”

Connecticut tied the Sparks for the best home record during the regular season at 15-2, and fed off some of that local energy by forcing L.A. into 17 turnovers. Los shot 46.9 percent for the game, but also went 5 of 22 from 3-point range.

Stars Candace Parker and Nneka Ogwumike combined for 44 points and 20, but the Sparks’ talented backcourt of Chelsea Gray and Riquna Williams together totaled just six points on 3-of-17 shooting.

“We needed some additional scoring for sure,” Sparks coach Derek Fisher told the Los Angeles Times. “(We have other players) capable of scoring points, but we couldn’t sustain it, particularly from our backcourt.

“We have to figure out how to get them more high-efficient shots over the course of the game.”

L.A. also must find a way to win on the road, where it went 7-10 during the regular season and has now lost five of the last six. The Sparks need to win at least once in Connecticut to take the series.

Game 3 will be Sunday at Los Angeles.

SEASON SERIES

5/31/19  Connecticut Sun  70   @  77  Los Angeles Sparks
6/6/19  Los Angeles Sparks  77   @  89  Connecticut Sun
8/25/19  Connecticut Sun  72   @  84  Los Angeles Sparks
9/17/19  Los Angeles Sparks  75   @  84  Connecticut Sun