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What the Sparks aim to correct before start of the postseason

What the Sparks aim to correct before start of the postseason

With the regular season complete, the Sparks can enjoy a luxury that became quite irregular the last two months:


This odd 2020 bubble season in the WNBA produced games at an unprecedented pace. With games played nearly every other day, the Sparks opted not to hold practice for much of the year.

Practice became even more infrequent down the stretch, as the Sparks played eight games in 14 days to close the year. For a veteran team like Los Angeles, the extra rest for weary legs and bodies outweighed any additional time in the gym.

But now the regular season has ended. The Sparks finished 15-7, good for third place and a bye to the second round. That single-elimination game will be played Thursday, Sept. 17 against the lowest-seeded team that survives the first playoff round.

And with some genuine time off before their next game, the Sparks can finally spend some time in the gym honing their craft.

“It’ll be really important,” Coach Derek Fisher said after Saturday’s loss to Las Vegas. I think when you’re trying to form either new habits or maintain and sustain older habits, you have to practice them in order to maintain and sustain them and to build new ones.”

Still, the priority, Fisher says, is to get the team rested between now and Thursday. The Sparks played games without four rotation players down the stretch. Starting guard Sydney Wiese is still out with a sprained ankle, while forward Tierra Ruffin-Pratt missed the last two games with a dislocated shoulder.

But there are still things to work on in an actual practice setting. Fisher mentioned fine-tuning offensive execution, and working on defense without fouling.

He explained, “In particular against good playoff teams, we can’t put them on the free throw line too much in the postseason.”

Unsurprisingly, Sparks forward Candace Parker thinks the focus of practices should be on defense, an area that she has emphasized all season, while the team awaits word on which team it will face in its playoff opener.

“We don’t know who we’re going to play so all we can do is focus on ourselves and try to get better,” Parker said. “I think it’ll help because we’re not playing 40 minutes of grueling basketball so we’ll be able to get some rest and focus on ourselves.”


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