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Playoff Race Check In: The Los Angeles Sparks are in a must-win scenario against the New York Liberty

With seven playoff berths clinched, the Chicago Sky and Los Angeles Sparks are fighting for the eighth and final spot in the 2023 WNBA postseason. The Sparks meet the Liberty in New York on Thursday, needing a win to keep their hopes alive.

Seattle Storm v Los Angeles Sparks
The Sparks’ Azurá Stevens attempts the tough bucket around the Storm’s Ezi Magbegor during a recent game.
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

With the WNBA regular season reaching its final days, the playoff picture is becoming clearer. However, positioning between seeds five through eight is still very much up in the air, and the eighth and final participant still is undecided. We know it will be either the Chicago Sky or Los Angeles Sparks. Chicago currently has the spot thanks to the head-to-head tiebreaker. But with two games to go, the race for eight is far from over.

On Wednesday, just one game was on the schedule, with the Atlanta Dream hosting the Seattle Storm. By winning the game 79-68, the Dream officially clinched a playoff berth.

Atlanta played up to their full potential, with four players in double digits. Monique Billings put up a season-high 15 points along with 14 rebounds in the victory. The opening quarter was rocky for Atlanta, but a 14-4 run to end the first half gave the Dream the advantage at the break and they never looked back.

The win was a culmination of what head coach Tanisha Wright and the Dream organization have been working toward since she took over the team before last season. Atlanta will be playing postseason basketball for the first time since 2018.

"Making it to the playoffs is not an easy thing to do in this league," Cheyenne Parker said post game. "So, to be able to do it with this group is special and important to me. I'm really excited for the journey."

Los Angeles Sparks (16-22) vs. New York Liberty (31-7)

Thursday’s one game is a big one, as Los Angeles fights for their playoff lives against the New York Liberty in the Big Apple.

The Sparks likely have to win their next two games to even have a chance of making the playoffs. They currently are tied with the Sky with a 16-22 record, but, with Chicago holding the tiebreaker, LA needs to finish with a better record to jump into the eighth seed.

Winning their penultimate game is looking dire for Los Angeles. Not only is their opponent the Liberty, who have won seven straight and nine of their last 10 games, but the injury report also lists All-Star Nneka Ogwumike and starter Karlie Samuelson as questionable. If both players miss Thursday's game, it's hard to imagine them beating the Liberty on the road.

If LA loses, they are not out of the playoff race, but would need Chicago to lose upcoming games against the Minnesota Lynx on Friday and the Connecticut Sun on Sunday. The Sparks then would have to win their final game against the Storm.

Everyone seems to be available for New York, including Sabrina Ionescu, who has been questionable as of late with a calf injury. With the No. 2 seed secured, the Liberty have the luxury of resting players, if they desire.

Game information

Los Angeles Sparks (16-22) vs. New York Liberty (31-7)

When: Thursday, Sep. 7 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn, NY

How to watch: Prime Video

Sparks injury report: Nneka Ogwumike (questionable; knee), Karlie Samuelson (questionable; abdomen), Chiney Ogwumike (out; foot), Lexie Brown (out; non-COVID illness), Nia Clouden(out; knee), Katie Lou Samuelson (out; maternity leave)

Liberty injury report: No injuries to report