On a 10-game winning streak and showing no signs they are ready to slow down, the Connecticut Sun will pay a visit to Los Angeles on Thursday in a matchup against the Sparks.
On the second-longest winning streak in team history, the Sun (22-6) could move a tick closer to the franchise-best 12-game winning streak they had in 2006 while in the middle of a run of six consecutive playoff appearances.
Having already clinched a fifth consecutive playoff appearance on their current run, Connecticut has four regular-season games remaining to close out the top spot in the WNBA standings. They will enter Thursday with a two-game lead on the second-place Las Vegas Aces.
The Sun’s latest victory was an 83-56 road thrashing Tuesday of the Dallas Wings, led by the defense. Connecticut held Dallas to 26.6-percent shooting from the field. It was complete domination with the Sun scoring 30 first-quarter points, while holding the Wings to 25 points in the entire first half.
“I think every night we come out we try to hang our hat on defense,” Sun forward Brionna Jones said. “And I think we wanted to start this game intense and do everything we can from the jump, defensively, offensively. So I think our mindset going into the game was just trying to be better than our last game and just continuing to improve ourselves, offensively, defensively, as we are making this push into the playoffs.”
Jones was one of five Sun players who scored in double figures with 18 points, while also grabbing 10 rebounds. Briann January and Natisha Hiedeman had 13 points each as the Sun clinched at least a first-round bye in the playoffs.
As good as the Sun have been, the Sparks are in a complete opposite mode with five consecutive losses to close out a six-game road trip. Two of the defeats were at Connecticut, a 76-72 loss on Aug. 26 and a 76-61 defeat two days later.
Nneka Ogwumike was held under her season average of 14.2 points in both games at Connecticut, including a seven-point game on Aug. 28.
As poorly as they have played of late, the Sparks are just a half game out of the final playoff spot with four games remaining. But they will have to proceed without guard Kristi Toliver, who will miss three weeks with a fractured left pinkie finger.
Thursday’s game will give the Sparks a full week between games, giving them a chance to catch their collective breath following their grueling road trip.
“We gotta stick together, you know?” Ogwumike said. “It’s easy to fall into the hole — into the hole of what outsiders are saying, into the hole if things aren’t going my way.”
–Field Level Media