Watch Sparks guard Erica Wheeler drop yet another defender with her slick crossover

·3-min read

Erica Wheeler's defenders aren't actually wearing skates. But after this past week, it's understandable if you thought so. 

The Los Angeles Sparks guard tied up veteran superstar Sue Bird earlier this week and did it again to Odyssey Sims in a critical 74-68 win over the Atlanta Dream on Thursday night. Both times it was a filthy crossover step-back at the elbow. 

Wheeler's move sent Sims stumbling back toward the basket as Wheeler hit the uncontested jumper. 

At the beginning of the week, Wheeler did the same to Bird. The four-time Storm champion got crossed up and face planted into the court. Bird was not injured on the play. 

Wheeler, 30, is one of the league's more inspirational stories. She went undrafted out of Rutgers in 2013 and played in Puerto Rico, Turkey and Brazil before signing a training camp contract with the Dream in 2015. She played 17 games with Atlanta and three with the New York Liberty before catching on with the Indiana Fever for four seasons. 

In 2019, she became the first undrafted player to win All-Star MVP honors. Her six 3-pointers in the first half were one short of tying the All-Star game record and she finished with 25 points. 

She signed with the Sparks in 2020 in free agency, and after opting out of the wubble season is helping push Los Angeles to a playoff spot. 

Big picture: Sparks stay alive in postseason push

Erica Wheeler and Sue Bird
Erica Wheeler tied up Sue Bird in a game earlier this week. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

Wheeler was the one taking over highlight reels, but the entire team is making its case for the playoffs and hoping for some help. Wins over the Storm and Dream this week kept the Sparks in contention for the eighth and final playoff spot that's still up for grabs. 

Right now the Washington Mystics (12-18) are in control of it. If the Mystics win out, it's theirs to have outright. The Sparks (12-19) need a sequence of games to fall their way. 

First, they must win out themselves. They have one game left on Sunday on the road against the Dallas Wings (13-18). It's the final game of the 2021 WNBA season. 

Then they need Washington to lose both remaining games. The No. 1 Connecticut Sun already beat the Liberty (11-20) on Wednesday night to help their cause. The Liberty are also still in contention, but can be eliminated if they lose to Washington on Friday night. 

FiveThirtyEight gives the Mystics a 71% chance of winning that spot, followed by the Liberty (18%) and Sparks (11%). 

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