After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the quest to return to the postseason for the Los Angeles Sparks begins on May 6. And for the first time in franchise history, Candace Parker will be suiting up for the opposing team, as the defending champion Chicago Sky host the Sparks to ring in the 2022 WNBA season.
The 2022 WNBA schedule will include 36 games for each team, 18 home and 18 away, for the first time in league history. The season will reportedly also feature the second edition of the Commissioner’s Cup, which debuted in 2021. The standings for those are determined by the Sparks’ record in the first home and first away game against each Western Conference opponent. A new WNBA playoff format, which has done away with single-elimination games, is also in place for the 2022 postseason.
The big news for the Sparks in their 2022 schedule release is that their home games will once again be played at the soon-to-be renamed Crypto.com Arena, the first time since 2019 that the building will be the team’s dedicated home court.
Since the Sparks are returning full-time to the same building as the Kings, Lakers, and Clippers, the top half of their schedule is road-heavy during the NHL and NBA playoffs. The Sparks begin their season with a four-game road trip, starting in Chicago and ending in Connecticut before playing their home opener against longtime rival Minnesota on Wednesday, May 17. That game will be the team’s first Commissioner’s Cup contest of the season and is one of only three home games in May, as 10 of the first 14 games are away from Crypto.com Arena.
The Sparks won’t have back-to-back games in Los Angeles until June 21 and 23 against Washington and Chicago. Their first true home stand begins on July 3, when they will begin seven consecutive home games culminating on Thursday, July 21 against Atlanta. That game appears to be the Sparks’ annual Camp Day, when the team welcomes children from summer camps around the city. Los Angeles also closes the season with a three-game home stand.
With 36 games, the Sparks play eight teams three times and three teams four times apiece. They get Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Dallas four times each, a murderer’s row considering the Sparks finished 1-8 against those opponents last year. Losing to the Wings on the final day of the season eliminated the Sparks from postseason contention in 2021.
There are five months left until the start of the season, but the WNBA offseason is about to kick into high gear. The draft lottery is scheduled for Dec. 19 and free agency will begin in January, as teams are eligible to negotiate with free agents starting on Jan. 15.