Bradenton, FL (September 11, 2020)—In less than 48 hours, the Las Vegas Aces’ (16-4) postseason landscape will be crystal clear, but until then, they still have two games in two days against the third-place Los Angeles Sparks (15-6), and the first place Seattle Storm (17-3).
Those are the only three teams remaining who can secure the two top seeds in the playoffs, thereby earning a double bye into the WNBA Semifinals, and avoiding the single-elimination tightrope that is the first and second rounds.
A win in either of the next two games gets Las Vegas at least the two seed, and a weekend sweep puts the Aces on top of the standings. The Aces take on the Sparks on Saturday beginning at 3 pm ET/12 pm PT on MyLVTV.
Los Angeles won nine straight in the middle of the season to improve to 12-3, but they have split their most recent six games. Wins during that stretch have come against Dallas, Chicago and New York, while losses have been to Minnesota, Seattle, and Washington.
The Sparks have the third most efficient defense in the league, thanks mostly to the fact that they force turnovers on a league-best 21.6 percent of all possessions. The Aces, by contrast, turn the ball over the fewest time in the WNBA on just 15.1 percent of their possessions.
Los Angeles is susceptible to the three ball as they permit opponents to make 36.9 percent of their shots from long distance (9th in the league), but they are much better inside the arc where they rank fourth in the WNBA in two-point field goal percentage allowed (.486).
Offensively, the Sparks are the top team in the league in three-point shooting, connecting on 40.8 percent of their attempts, and second overall in field goal percentage (.486). They rank last, however, in offensive rebound percentage (.251), and they don’t make particularly good use of the free throw line (.256 free throw rate, 9th in the W).
Leading scorer Candace Parker is enjoying one of her best offensive seasons in years, posting her best field goal percentage (.509) since 2011, and her best three point field goal percentage (.422) since her rookie season. She is one of five players scoring in double figures (14.5) for the Sparks, joined by Chelsea Gray (14.4), Nneka Ogwumike (12.7), Riquna Williams (10.6) and Brittney Sykes (10.3).
The Aces are 35-59 all-time against the Sparks, but have won two in a row and three of the last five in the series.