Basketball

WNBA: Derek Fisher’s Los Angeles Sparks have to be road warriors

They say there’s no place like home, and nobody understands that better than the LA Sparks. They have played three games on the road and will do so again Saturday against the Connecticut Sun. Playing on the road has its challenges. The crowd is against you and you have to travel and be away from the stadium, facilities and people you know. Still, Sparks head coach Derek Fisher isn’t using that as an excuse.

That’s a part of profesional sports,” he said. “Getting out on the road at times, fatigue is going to be a factor you have to deal with and manage, but there’s no excuse to it.”

The Sparks are on the road a lot to start the season, but they also have the odd role of being multiple teams’ home-opening opponent. Every game the Sparks have played has been the opposing team’s home opener. They’ll have played the Sky, Fever, Dream, and Sun in those teams’ home openers when this road trip is over. Anyone who has been to a home opener in the WNBA understands this challenge for the road team. Regardless of the previous year’s performance, the home opener always has record crowds, noisy crowds, optimism and energy only the start of a season can inspire. Every team wants to win their first home game. It sends a positive message that this year will be good. And with huge crowds, the energy stays up in the building all game long. The fact that the Sparks will have to play another game against the Sun in these circumstances, while the Sun have only played one game total, does seem a bit unfair, but that’s early-season scheduling, and as Derek Fisher has said, no excuses.

Pressure can bust pipes or make diamonds. In adversity, there is opportunity. So far, the LA Sparks have gotten the better of the road, starting the season 2-1 with their only loss being by two points to the Dream. A win on Saturday would give them a 3-1 record, which would be their best start after four games in the Derek Fisher era.

With so much roster turnover and new additions like Liz Cambage still getting situated to Derek Fisher’s system, it’s way too early to tell if this team will be able to be a contender again or if this is another fringe playoff season. The early indications are this team has the star power and depth to contend in this league, and a win against the Sun to end this road trip would be ideal. The Sun were an absolute monster last season, going 26-6 before losing to the eventual champion Chicago Sky in the semis. This will be a good test for this new Sparks team during this early 2022 season; let’s see if they pass it on Saturday at 7:00 pm ET.

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