Matchup: Los Angeles Sparks @ Chicago Sky
Date: Tuesday, May 24
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Candace Parker, a two-time WNBA Most Valuable Player, looks to carry the Sparks to their fourth straight win in her home state. The Naperville, Illinois native is averaging just shy of a double-double at 18.7 points per game alongside 8.7 rebounds per game. For the first time since 2008, the Sparks are off to a 3-0 start with wins over the Seattle Storm (1-2), Washington Mystics (1-3) and the New York Liberty (2-1).
"I have had a chance to see my family and friends already," Parker said. "It's always special to come home and play. It's a lot of fun to look up in the stands and see everybody that has grown with you through your career. It means a lot to be able to see the people that I grew up playing for and with."
After a somewhat disappointing 2015 campaign, Parker, and the Sparks have made a statement right out of the gates this season. Los Angeles has a tall task in front of them squaring off against the reigning MVP Elena Delle Donne and the Chicago Sky (1-2) on their home turf.
Points per game: 22.0 (2nd)*
Rebounds per game: 6.5 (15th)
Assists per game: 1.5
Blocks per game: 2.0 (Tie for 3rd)
Field goal percentage: 51.5% (13th)
Minutes per game: 34.0
"Elena [Delle Donne] is a great scorer," Parker noted. "Obviously with her size, her versatility and her ability to create her own shot, it's something that is second to none. She's tough to guard because she's quicker and can shoot over you. I was part of the recruitment process at Tennessee of Elena, so I know how great of a player she was and is."
MVP: 2008 & 2013
Points per game: 18.7 (Tie for 7th)
Rebounds per game: 8.7 (5th)
Assists per game: 4.3 (9th)
Blocks per game: 1.3 (Tie for 8th)
Field goal percentage: 42.9%
Minutes per game: 30.3
*Current WNBA statistic rankings
Just like the Sparks, Chicago also has a handful of offensive weapons in their back pocket. With Delle Donne leading the way, she is backed by three other teammates averaging double figures in Cappie Pondexter (16.0 ppg), Jessica Breland (10.0 ppg) and Courtney Vandersloot (10 ppg).
Vandersloot is also leading the WNBA in assists dropping an average of nine dimes per game thus far. Posting an average of 84.7 points as a team, Chicago is shooting over 40% from the field while attaining one of the best free throw percentages in the league at 84.5%.
Behind a potent offense, a league second-best 90.7 points per game, Delle Donne, and the Sky will have to contain the ‘Big Three' in Parker, Nneka Ogwumike and Kristi Toliver, who are all averaging double-digit points.
Ogwumike has chipped in 16 points per game and close behind her is Toliver at 15.3 points per game. Ogwumike is also shooting a sizzling 60.7% field goal percentage. As a team, Los Angeles is holding opponents to a stellar 68.3 points - the best in the WNBA - while forcing 21 turnovers per game.
Rebecca Lobo's Keys to the Game
1. Chicago: take care of the ball
"I think the biggest key is going to be for Chicago to take care of the basketball," Lobo said. "Los Angeles has done a great job so far this season turning people over and are leading the league by far right now in points off turnovers. They've really been able to capitalize on that."
2. Chicago: limit points in the paint
"In terms of the paint, Chicago defensively last year was not good when it came to points in the paint that they gave up," Lobo added. "LA is very good at getting in there, especially with Candace [Parker], Nneka [Ogwumike] and [Jantel] Lavender when she gets in the game."
3. Los Angeles: continue what they've been doing
"Right now LA has been the more impressive team," Lobo said. "We are only a week plus into the season, but Chicago is going to have to play really well."