WNBA Playoff Picture Still In a FogSports — By Maurice Dwayne Smith on September 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm
By Maurice Dwayne Smith
With 2 weeks left to play in The 2011 WNBA season, The LA Sparks, at first glance appear to be out of the playoff picture. I had envisioned Coach Bryant, with a staff in his hands, and his loins girded in cloth, commanding the waters of the WNBA playoff brackets to open up, allowing the LA Sparks, as if it’s the Red Sea, into the WNBA playoffs.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. The only team that had clinched a playoff berth as of August 30, 2011, was the Minnesota Lynx. With the return of last week’s WNBA player of the week, Candace Parker, to the Sparks, a much needed galvanizing enzyme has been injected into the LA Sparks competitive veins. These women, having not only withered the raging waves of tribulations have smacked their adversaries, as they have locked down and pushed back, both winning and losing close nail biting heartbreakers. But they’ve also remained within the pack, as the ” hunt” for the prize rages on. Their focus is locked and aimed straight at the fourth and final WNBA playoff spot.
Their own thunderous roar, as they defeated Seattle 68-62, Tuesday night , August 30, 2011, in the Staples Center, has recently been overheard and manifested in a seemingly new, sticky, stingy, and powerfully administered physical defense, according to Coach Joe Bryant.. There is an increased excitement and quiver in the air as the fans at Staples witness a fresh synergistic flow of grace-high percentage long shots combined with a pit-bull like intensity whose resolve is only about winning.
Candace Parker, still on the mend, spanked the Seattle Storm, the reigning WNBA’s 2010 champion, with a diversified portfolio, using an assortment of crossover moves, layups, and a series of coldblooded, seemingly effortlessly administered spin fall away spin jump shots. .
Tina Thompson, who after 15 seasons, still is a very dangerous and capable offensive and defensive force. She forced turnovers, scored jumpers, and solidified a flexing defense, that stunted the growth of any comeback attempted by The Storm. The Storm fought back and refused to quit . The Sparks led at halftime 32-24.
The Seatte Storm, scoring with a variety of shots, returned in the second half, with the resiliency of a virus, that had refused to accept a remission. Ebony Hoffman began asserting herself, as if she were Rocky, and the Storm were Apollo Creed, scoring with a swagger, and playing defense with intensity and purpose. Making the score 56-47 , Tina Thompson, at the 7:21 mark of the 4th quarter, using, Coach Bryant’s words “the old in out, in out” rifled a pass to Hoffman, all alone, under the radar, under the basket, which both surprised and prompted a timeout from the Storm.
The Storm pressed and The Sparks would not break or wither, as if the previous August 28, 2 point heartbreak loss last Sunday, to the Storm, was an inoculation against this latest gut checking outbreak. The controversial foul on Sue Bird in the previous game, which may have tipped the scale in the Storm’s favor in the last Sunday’s game has weighed heavily on the minds of some of the Sparks fans, not that the Sparks need any more motivation with the season hanging in the balance. Tina Thompson said she stays motivated so that she stays, in my opinion, like a gun, always cocked, loaded and ready to roll. I can’t, imagine that, as professional athletes are people, that some of the LA Sparks weren’t hungry for a chance at “redemption.”
The Sparks, with an arsenal of shots and defense supplied, mainly from Parker, Milton, Hoffman, and the ever efficient Tina Thompson and the entire Sparks family, not only won the game 68-62, but The LA Sparks also remained in the hunt and put fire into the heart of Coach Joe “Jelly Bean” Bryant.” However, the WNBA playoff picture is still in a fog. Will Bryant need a staff in his hands to guide The Sparks to the playoffs? Stay tuned.