For the Los Angeles Sparks, it's a simple scenario. Win or else.
If they lose their game Thursday night at the Atlanta Dream, they could be eliminated from playoff consideration as soon as Friday night with a Washington win over New York.
Los Angeles (11-19) is currently in a tie for ninth place with the Liberty, one game behind Washington. The Sparks will need to win this game and prevail Sunday at Dallas -- and even that might not be enough unless the Mystics lose either Friday night or Sunday against Minnesota.
The good news for Los Angeles is that it's coming off perhaps its best performance of the year, an 81-53 blowout of Seattle on Sunday night at Staples Center. Four players scored at least 15 points for the Sparks, led by 19 from Te'a Cooper.
"The game for us right now is composure and consistency," forward Nneka Ogwumike said. "For us to be able to see that we're capable of having that type of game from start to finish shows that there's a standard by which we have to operate."
Los Angeles also got 17 points each from Ogwumike and Erica Wheeler, plus 15 points and 10 rebounds from Brittney Sykes. It held Seattle to a season-low point output.
"Our defense has really been our anchor all season," Sparks coach Derek Fisher said. "We've made it really difficult for teams to score."
As for Atlanta (8-22), it is coming into this one off an 85-78 home win Tuesday night over Indiana that will prevent it from finishing with the WNBA's worst record. Tiffany Hayes led the way with 31 points on just 18 shot attempts, canning 5 of 6 3-point shots.
The Dream shot 47.8 percent from the field and also established a major presence in the lane defensively, rejecting a whopping 13 shots. Elizabeth Williams blocked five and Courtney Williams added three to her 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Los Angeles swept a two-game series with Atlanta last month at home, winning by a combined seven points.
--Field Level Media