The Indiana Fever (10-12) are preparing to take on the visiting Los Angeles Sparks (20-2) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse tomorrow evening.
The Sparks fell just short of the fastest start in WNBA history Sunday after they lost to the Atlanta Dream, 91-74. Los Angeles was tied, before its loss to Atlanta, to the 1998 Houston Comets record who finished the regular season 27-3 for the fastest start in WNBA history. The loss to the Dream also snapped the team's nine-game road winning streak.
Yesterday, four-time WNBA All-Star Alana Beard and 2012 Most Improved Player Kristi Toliver of the Los Angeles Sparks, and 2012 WNBA champions Briann January and Erlana Larkins shared their thoughts on the matchup tomorrow evening, as well as their thoughts on the WNBA's 20th season.
"This year we're extremely efficient and extremely talented, and what's separated us this year from other years is that everyone's been willing to sacrifice a little bit of themselves. And when you do that, great things happen," Toliver said.
With the Olympic break coming up, Toliver and Beard said she believes that this break will only help them.
"Obviously, we've been playing together for a little while now. But we certainly have a long ways to go, and we know we can get better on both ends of the floor. Offensively I think we will only continue to get stronger," Toliver said.
With as much talent as the Sparks have this season, they have managed to get away with some poor play on the court. Alana Beard said that last night was a prime example of the team slacking defensively and how it managed to break their historic night.
"We have such a long way to go as far as being consistent on the defensive end. All the things we've been getting away certainly came out last night. So it's back to the drawing board for us."
The Indiana Fever's record (10-12) certainly does not compare to that of the Sparks (20-2), but taking advantage of this minor setback for Los Angeles could be the key to pulling out another win.
Indiana's season has been a bit odd as far as the games it's lost at home and won on the road. Larkins said that in order to gain some consistency heading into its game with the Sparks they just need to focus and prepare.
"Consistency is all about focus on both ends of the floor and its starts with our preparation. We just have to focus on stuff even when we leave the gym like plays and communication. But we just need to focus on our core values and pushing the ball down the court on a consistent basis," Larkins said.
Larkins also said that in order to be successful in tomorrow's game against the Sparks, they need to attack them offensively, "continuously move the ball and minimize the things they do well. If we do all those things tomorrow and not turn the ball over then, we will be successful."
Even with the historic start that the Sparks have had, Indiana's Briann January doesn't believe that it has changed their preparation at all.
"We go into every game the same. We watch film, we know what they do well and then we focus on ourselves. We feel like if we play our game we can compete with anybody," January said.
"If we can build of the fourth quarter we played last time we were in LA, we can be successful tomorrow if we can carry that kind of basketball over."
Indiana has, for a long time, held a reputation for its defense. However, the team hasn't lived up to that reputation as well as they have in the past. January said they've been lucky to have a core group of people on their team that knows their defense.
"We play a particular type of defense, and it's dedicated on knowing the rotation. So the addition of a handful of new people can affect the whole rotation. So it's just been a process of getting everybody on the same page and learning each other and having each other's back on defense. It's a process."
The Sparks will head to Bankers Life Fieldhouse tomorrow for its matchup against the Indiana Fever as they look to bounce back from an almost historic night, with tipoff at 8 p.m. ET.