The Las Vegas Aces (19-7) welcome the Chicago Sky (14-13) on Thursday at 22:00 ET as everyone fights to settle their playoff position. Earlier in the evening, at 20:00 ET, the Dallas Wings (11-15) are at home against the Atlanta Dream (6-19), who have lost their last 10 games. The Minnesota Lynx (16-9), which is the current no. 3-seeded Seattle Storm kicks off, facing Los Angeles Sparks (10-17) at 8 p.m. in the hunting ground. At 22:00 ET, the Storm (18-10) will end the three-game finish line when they meet the New York Liberty (11-17), who enter tonight just half a game ahead of the Sparks.
First of two
The Aces and the Sky meet for the first time this season and play again Sunday in Chicago to conclude the two-game mini-series.
The Aces have won seven of their last 10 games and are only 1.5 games behind the Connecticut Sun. Las Vegas is the highestthe team in the league with 88.8 points per game, with 81 percent of their shots come from within the 3-point line. Aja Wilson clues the team in scoring and rebound averaging 18.5 points and 9.3 rebounds. Liz Cambage averaged 14.7 points and 8.4 rebounds.
On top of that, the Aces have the luxury of taking Kelsey Plum and Dearica Hamby off the bench. Plum brings in 12.8 points, which is third in the team, and 3.8 assists, while Hamby scores 11.7 points and contributes 5.8 rebounds.
The Sky’s record of 5-5 in their last 10 games describes their season in a nutshell: some highs and lows. The highs came last weekend when they twice gave the Storm a loss, including a 107-75 blowout. A low was the follow-up to the performance with a devastating 103-83 loss in the hands of the exciting Phoenix Mercury.
The inequalities in Chicago’s game came as a surprise on the offensive side. The air has an attacking score of 100.8, which is sixth in the league, while their defensive score of 97.7 is third in the league. The Sky has been set at their lowest defense rating since 2015, the last time it was less than 100 for the season.
The Sky’s improved defense gives them a chance, but at some point the score will have to increase.
The Wings have alternated wins and losses in their last five games, which, if the trend wants to continue, means they have to beat the struggling dream. The Wings last played on August 28 in a one-point loss to the Washington Mystics, in which they dropped a 16-point lead.
Arike Ogunbowale is a star in the league and is the car of the Dallas offense. She is the only player to have started all 26 games for the team. The Wings have won games against some of the better teams in the league, but can also lose to everyone in the league. This hot / cold problem for the Wings made them fight for one of the last places in the playoffs.
For the dream, it can not get much worse. They have dropped their last 10 games and show no signs that they can turn it around. The dream season was derailed in July when Chennedy Carter was suspended. Without a true scorer, the dream suffered.
Elsewhere, the Minnesota Lynx are officially in the playoffs, but still have a chance to compete for a higher qualifier, while the Los Angeles Sparks want to close the gap between themselves and the Liberty / Mystics.
Minnesota has won their last three games and eight of their last 10. The Lynx’s record of 16-9 may flatter them slightly, as they have a net score of 3.2. However, if you have a future Hall-of-Fame center, combined with an emerging star power forward, you tend to be successful. Sylvia Fowles is average 16.6 points and 10 rebounds while Napheesa Collier contributes 16.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.
The Sparks were last killed with 73.1 points per game and their score against the Lynx was worse (62.5 in two games). Both games ended in wins for the Lynx. Los Angeles have scored just four wins in their last 14 games. The Sparks urgently need a win.
Unknown area for Storm
The Storm have not lost three games in a row since 2018. The defending champions have sailed through the regular season of 2021, but now have just two wins in their last seven games. How they handle this adversity in the late season can have a significant impact on the playoffs.
Looking for Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd to give the Liberty a headache. Stewart is score 20.3 points per game on the year, while Loyd has a career year with 18 points per game. The Storm’s defense was good all year, but made it falter. Clear improvement is needed.
The Liberty has had one win since July 9: an 83-79 victory over the Storm. However, that victory was followed by the Storm that beat Liberty 99-83. New York has a minus-7-point difference as defensive misery has plagued the team all year. Natasha Howard must establish herself as the leading defender she has been in Seattle. Her score was also inconsistent, but that may be due to a lack of time.
The Liberty, just like the Sparks, need a bit of consistency to end the season if they are to score the playoffs.