WNBA Update – Los Angeles Sparks Have the Pedal to the Metal

The Sparks are in firm control of the WNBA as they improved to 18-1 over the last week.

The Los Angeles Sparks continue to roll in the WNBA as they posted two wins over the last week of action. Those wins have seen them improve to 18-1 on the season and they have built up a very solid lead in the Western Conference.

On Wednesday the Sparks hosted the Indiana Fever, a game that saw Los Angeles win by six. Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker were the standouts in the game, two players that had 23 points and 20 points respectively. On Sunday, LA’s dynamic duo was at it again as Parker lead all scorers with 26 and Ogwumike had 22 in a win over the Washington Mystics. Parker, who nearly had a triple double in the game, also had 11 rebounds and 9 assists in the effort.

With the Minnesota Lynx now 16-4 on the season, what has resulted for Los Angeles is a comfortable lead in the Western Conference. They enter this week 2.5 games up on the Lynx, a lead that may not look that large to many. However, basketball races are not like baseball pennant races as the elite teams in the former sport often win a very-high percentage of their games. Accordingly, a 2.5-game lead is actually huge and difficult for a second-placed team to overcome.

With teams having played about 20 games in the short WNBA schedule, it’s not too early to start talking about playoff outlooks in my view. The odds makers have certainly reacted to the developments over the last few weeks as Los Angeles are now the favorites to win the WNBA title this season instead of Minnesota (source: Paddy Power). It also seems as though the Sparks will benefit from the changes to playoff structuring that were made ahead of the 2016 season.

One key change involves the seeding of the top eight teams regardless of conference in the playoffs. Instead of having to go through conference-rival Minnesota to get to the finals, the Sparks and the Lynx appear as though they will be on opposite sides of the draw. Furthermore, the playoffs will be four rounds this season despite only having eight teams. The top-two teams will be placed directly into the semifinals – a huge edge that Los Angeles look as though they will have.

There’s lots that could still happen before the post-season starts, however I think the Sparks, at 18-1, should be considered large favorites to win the WNBA title. It may sound like hair splitting, but  for the most part the Los Angeles Sparks are only considered small favorites.

 

Shane Lambert