The Mystics’ resume epitomizes how much parity there is in the WNBA right now. They are 4-3 and all seven games have been close, regardless of the credentials of the opponent.
The Sparks, on the other hand, have had people hailing them as the best team in the league after three of their wins, one a 33-point win over the Storm to open the season, and the other two by 36 and 28 points over the Silver Stars and Lynx, respectively.
In the three other games L.A. has played this season they have not been quite as impressive, but the way they have looked at their best is what most expected to see out of a team that returned Candace Parker, Kristi Toliver and Nneka Ogwumike.
The meeting with the Lynx on Friday was sort of an out of the ordinary game for the Sparks. It’s not too often that you will see Candace Parker, Maya Moore and Seimone Augustus all play under 20-minutes, but L.A. being up 50-24 at the break wasn’t really a normal scenario.
The fact that the Sparks could beat the Lynx by so much with Parker scoring just five points shows how good they are. Kristi Toliver, the team’s leading scorer from a year ago and the reigning most improved player in the WNBA, had 19 on 4 for 6 shooting from beyond the arc. Reigning rookie of the year Nneka Ogwumike added 18 points and 8 rebounds.
The Sparks also added Lindsey Harding to their roster this year and she has been in the starting lineup and averaging 15 points a game, which is good for second on the team behind Toliver.
With all of those weapons, the Sparks are expected to hold their own against the big threes of Moore, Augustus and Whalen in Minnesota and Taurasi, Griner and Bonner in Phoenix.
If the Mystics want to remain competitive when they take on the Sparks on Sunday, they will need solid contributions from everyone in their rotation.
And that starts with Ivory Latta and Crystal Langhorne, the latter of whom scored a season-low four points in Washington’s loss to Phoenix Friday night. Latta has scored in single figures just once this season and that game was also a loss for the Mystics.
Washington doesn’t have one single player with the star power of someone like Candace Parker, but they have a solid roster from top to bottom that Mike Thibault has put together. After their core three of Latta, Laghorne and Monique Currie, Matte Ajavon and Michelle Snow are their next biggest offensive contributors and both are coming off the bench. Then you’ve got Kia Vaughn, Tierra Ruffin-Pratt, Emma Meesseman and Tayler Hill who all see significant minutes as well.
If the Mystics want to snap their two-game losing streak and remain above .500 they are going to need everyone to step up against the Sparks. Ivory Latta has pulled out some close games for them, but they are going to need to show off their depth in order to win consistently.