Los Angeles star Nneka Ogwumike is slated to be on the floor Sunday night for the first time since June 1 when the Sparks host the Indiana Fever.
The 2016 WNBA MVP has been sidelined since sustaining a sprained knee in a game against the Dallas Wings.
Los Angeles (6-13) has badly missed her, sitting in last place in Western Conference as play resumes following the month-long break for the Tokyo Olympics. The Sparks went 4-11 in her absence, and dropped their last six games prior to the break.
“Each day is incrementally better,” Ogwumike told ESPN.com. “When you suffer an injury like this, you still are a little ginger at times, but I try to put it out of my mind. It’s a mental thing.”
Nneka Ogwumike has averaged 16.4 points and 7.0 rebounds in just five games this season.
The Sparks will also have Kristi Toliver back on the floor. Toliver, who averages 9.8 points, missed the final six games prior to the break due to an eye injury.
Chiney Ogwumike, the younger sister of Nneka, remains sidelined with a knee injury, and will miss her 17th game in a row.
The Fever (4-16) own the worst record in the WNBA but won their last three games preceding the break.
Indiana has experienced its own injury woes, as Jantel Lavender (knee), Betti Hatar (ankle) and Chelsey Perry (knee) are all sidelined. The Fever said Hatar and Perry are out indefinitely.
In addition, first-round draft pick Kysre Gondrezick is away on a personal leave. Gondrezick, the No. 4 overall pick, has struggled as a rookie with averages of 1.9 points and 9.1 minutes in 19 games.
Indiana had some momentum going before the long break and general manager Tamika Catchings said she is counting on the team to quickly regain it.
“I expect our team will continue to grow, continue to get better and, you know, we are in playoff contention,” Catchings said, according to the Indianapolis Star. “It’s not going to be easy but nothing worth having is easy.”
The Sparks clobbered the Fever 98-63 when the teams met in Los Angeles on June 3. Toliver had 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting for the Sparks and Kelsey Mitchell scored a team-best 15 for Indiana.
–Field Level Media