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Las Vegas Aces vs. Los Angeles Sparks,
7/1/18 - WNBA Prediction and Preview

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

It’s a showdown of Western Conference teams at opposite ends of the standings in the City of Angels. The Las Vegas Aces are on the road as they travel to face the Los Angeles Sparks Sunday afternoon. These two teams met Friday night in Las Vegas, with the Aces rolling to a 94-78 victory. That snapped the Sparks’ nine game win streak in the series, dating back to 2015. Can the Aces sweep the home and home set against the weary Sparks or will Los Angeles answer the bell in this contest?

Las Vegas Aces Seek to Sweep Home and Home Set

Las Vegas took the opening game of the home and home set as they caught the road weary Sparks off guard. The Aces improved to 6-11 on the year and are six games behind the Sparks for the top spot in the West: they are two games behind the Dream for the eighth and final playoff spot. Las Vegas went on a 10-3 run to close the first half and take a seven point lead before pulling away in the second half. The Aces shot a hot 51.6 percent from the floor, including five of eight from beyond the arc, and hit 23 of 31 free throws. Las Vegas was led by A’ja Wilson’s 29 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals in the win.

The Aces come into this contest in the middle of the pack in scoring offense, ranking sixth with 81.9 points per game. Las Vegas is second in the league in rebounding (36.4 boards a game) and stand tied for fifth in assists by handing out 19.3 per contest. The Aces have to improve on the defensive end of the floor as they are second worst in the league in scoring defense by allowing 85.4 points a game. A’ja Wilson is living up to the #1 pick the team used on her as she leads the team with 20.7 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Kayla McBride is the only other player in double figures for Las Vegas with 18.3 points per contest. Getting consistent production from Tamera Young, Nia Coffey, Dearica Hamby, Kelsey Plum and Lindsay Allen will do wonders to take some of the load off Wilson and McBride. Las Vegas is 10th in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 42.7 percent from the field as a team this season. The Aces are last in the league in threes per game (3.5) and seventh in three point shooting at 35.3 percent on the year. Las Vegas is just 10th in free throw shooting at 76.3 percent on the season.

Los Angeles Sparks Looking to Regroup

Los Angeles dropped both games of a back to back on the road, falling to Seattle before losing to Las Vegas. The Sparks fell to 11-5 on the season and sit half a game behind the Mercury for the top spot entering Saturday: they are tied with Seattle for the second seed in the playoff picture though the Storm owns the tiebreaker. Los Angeles struggled to shoot 39.7 percent from the field despite hitting 13 of 28 three point attempts. The Sparks were only seven of 12 at the line and lost the rebounding battle 40-34.

The Sparks are ninth in the league in scoring offense as they put up an average of 79.3 points per game. Los Angeles is last in the league in rebounding (30.6 boards a night) and stand eighth in assists with 18.6 per game. The Sparks lead the league in scoring defense as they give up just 76.6 points a contest. Nneka Ogwumike is second on Los Angeles with 16.2 points plus 7.4 rebounds a game. Candace Parker chips in a team leading 16.8 points, 6.7 rebounds plus 4.1 assists per contest while Chelsea Gray (15.2 points, 5.4 dimes) and Odyssey Sims (10.6 points, 3.1 assists) also score in double figures. Riquna Williams, Essence Carson and Alana Beard are all valuable pieces of the Sparks’ rotation. The Sparks are second in the league in field goal percentage as they shoot 46.5 percent as a team on the year. Los Angeles is ninth in the league in three point field goals per game (5.6) and stand tied for fifth in three point percentage at 35.5 percent. The Sparks are seventh in the league in free throw percentage as they cash in 79 percent of their chances at the line.

Trends:

Las Vegas

  • Aces are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games
  • Aces are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record

Los Angeles

  • Sparks are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games overall
  • Sparks are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 vs. Western Conference

The Sparks showed that they aren’t the same team without Ogwumike in the mix as they were handled by double digits on the road by both the Storm and the Aces. It’s unclear if she’ll play in this one either as she is day to day with her back injury. Parker can’t carry the team by herself: the Sparks released Cappie Poindexter earlier this week, taking a veteran presence out of the locker room. Los Angeles is 7-1 at home but the Aces looked good Friday night and regardless of who wins, they should hang tough enough to cover the line here with Wilson and McBride leading the way.

Pick: Las Vegas Aces +12.5

K

Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.

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