The Los Angeles Sparks are fighting for their playoff lives as the WNBA season nears its conclusion, needing to pile up wins to reel in the Washington Mystics and earn that eighth and final spot, entering Thursday night’s battle with the Atlanta Dream a game back with two games to play.
The Sparks would start slow but rally back to beat the Dream 74-68, moving them just a half game back of the Mystics, with Brittney Sykes (17 points), Nneka Ogwumike (15 points, 10 rebounds), and Te’a Cooper (14 points) leading the way in the critical win. However, as was the case four days ago, the show-stealer for the Sparks was Erica Wheeler, whose crossover stepback at the elbow has become the WNBA’s most dangerous move to defend.
Early this week, it was Sue Bird who fell victim to Wheeler’s stepback, as the future Hall of Famer got dropped to the floor as Wheeler pulled the string on her. On Thursday night, Dream guard Odyssey Sims had the unfortunate task of trying to stay with Wheeler and fell to the same fate when Erica pulled it back and Sims simply couldn’t stop her momentum from taking her to the ground.
— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) September 17, 2021
Sims is looking for the pushoff call on the play, but as we watch this over (and over and over) on replays, there doesn’t appear to be much there. I too would be calling for a pushoff, whether it was true or not, and this one, more than the Bird play, looks like there may be a touch of contact. Still, it’s a filthy move and Wheeler has clearly dialed this one in, so WNBA defenders need to take note that if she drives right, be ready to throw on the brakes or just live with over-running it, because if she catches you off balance, you’re going to end up on that night’s highlight reel.