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How the Sparks can still make the playoffs

With only two games left, the Los Angeles Sparks’ playoff hopes hang on by a thread. Today we pull on that thread and look at the path towards a playoff berth.

Minnesota Lynx v Los Angeles Sparks Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

We've made it to the final two games of the regular season for the entire WNBA, and everything is up for grabs. Only Dallas as the sixth seed is secured with plenty of movement possible in the top five seeds and five teams vying for the final two playoff spots. The odds of a playoff spot for Los Angeles are slim to none. 538 has the Sparks with a 1% chance of making the playoffs. They'll have to win both games left and get a little help to qualify for postseason play. So, despite the odds, let's take a look at how they can get that done.

Control what you can control. It's an often used cliché, but clichés are clichés for a reason; they ring true. To even have a chance at the playoffs, the Sparks have to win both games left and end the season with 15 wins. That's easier said than done, with both games left being against two of the top teams in the league. Their next game is Thursday against the Connecticut Sun, who they just lost to in a 97-71 blowout loss at home on Tuesday. If they win that game, they'll still have to beat the Dallas Wings to give themselves a chance at reaching a playoff berth. The good news for LA is the Wings won't have much to play for with their sixth seed secured and no chances to move up or down in the standings.

Even if the Sparks win the rest of their games, they'll still need some help to make it. They have four teams ahead of them in the standings, and only two spots are up for grabs. The Sparks only hold a tiebreaker against the Phoenix Mercury, so that means they have to end with a better record than everyone else to get in. Unfortunately, all four teams left (Lynx, Dream, Liberty, and Mercury) have a one-game advantage over the Sparks with two games left. To add more challenges to the situation, the Atlanta Dream and New York Liberty play each other twice, which means one of them will at least reach 15 wins and hold the tiebreaker against the Sparks, meaning the Sparks only have a shot at the eighth and final playoff spot. The worst-case scenario for LA is if the Dream and Liberty split these next two games because they'll both have 15 wins, hold the tiebreaker against LA, and automatically eliminate them from playoff contention regardless of what the Sparks do. So, whoever wins the first Dream vs. Liberty game happening on Friday, Sparks fans have to root for that same team to win again on Sunday. Here is when those games are happening.

New York vs. Atlanta, Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

Atlanta vs. New York, Sunday at 2 p.m. ET (ESPN3)

Help the Sparks need from Minnesota

For the Lynx, the Sparks perspective is simple, root for Minnesota to lose every game left. If the Lynx win even one game, it automatically eliminates LA from playoff contention. The Lynx own the tiebreaker, so the Sparks have to end the season with a better record than them if they want to make the playoffs. Here is Minnesota's remaining schedule.

Friday vs. Seattle, 9 p.m. ET (ESPN 2)

Sunday at Connecticut, 1 p.m. ET (ABC)

Help the Sparks need from Phoenix

The Sparks can maintain playoff hopes if Phoenix loses one of their two games left. Since the Sparks own the tiebreaker, if they win out, they can move past Phoenix much easier than all the other teams in front of them. They still need them to drop one of their two games, so it won't be easy, especially since Phoenix is fighting for that same spot. Here is the remaining schedule for Phoenix:

Friday vs. Dallas, 10 p.m. ET (NBA TV)

Sunday vs. Chicago, 5 p.m. ET (Prime Video)

Closing Thoughts

This is it. The Sparks have to win these games and try to keep their season alive. "It's playing with team in mind, not the individual," Nneka Ogwumike said postgame on Tuesday. "And so when things get hard, sometimes it's easy to focus more so on what's going on with my situation, and that's something that I think we can be better at in this next game on Thursday and then also on Sunday." Despite all the trials and tribulations in this 2022 season, the Sparks' goal of returning to postseason play is still within reach. They'll need to win the games left and get a little help, but they have a shot, and as long as they do, they have to go after it.