WNBA League Pass Alert (All-Star Edition): Must-Watch Games (July 23-29)

A preview of select WNBA games to watch, including the 2018 All-Star Game, for the week of July 23-29, 2018.

Disclaimer: All stats are courtesy of the official WNBA site. The WNBA does not hold games on Mondays. Viewing options are valid at the time of publication; check for updated information on game days. Opinions are solely those of the author. You can still get WNBA League Pass for only $16.99 for the entire season. Don’t @ me.

As we approach the All-Star break, the playoff race is even tighter and the team rankings situation is fluid from week to week due to the sheer level of talent across the league. Teams are tired and ready to rest as they get ready for the final playoff push, and that has been evident across the league based on unexpected wins and losses. Due to the All-Star Game and break, there will be a limited amount of games played this week.

Tuesday, July 23, 2018

Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun

7:00 pm ET
ESPN3, NBCSB (local), Monumental (local)

The Washington Mystics (14-10) and the Connecticut Sun (13-12) are only separated by two spots in the league rankings and will be meeting for the final time this season. The Mystics have won two of the last three contests; Connecticut needs to at least tie the series. The Sun, while racking up some cohesiveness and wins since the return of Alyssa Thomas, are still having defensive lapses at crucial moments in the game -- like the final minute or so of the fourth quarter. Both the New York Liberty and the Atlanta Dream have hit buzzer-beating three-point shots against Connecticut to win the game; this is unacceptable, and it’s why the Sun is in danger of falling below .500 and missing out on the playoffs (they have a very fragile hold on the eighth and final playoff spot). The Mystics cannot be discounted as long as they have Elene Delle Donne, Kristi Toliver, and their bench mob; however, they have their vulnerable moments as well and have been without glue player Natasha Cloud due to concussion protocol (she is questionable/ game-time decision for this game). As we approach the playoffs every game is crucial for every team, but the Sun has more to lose in this instance.

Atlanta Dream at Los Angeles Sparks

10:30 pm ET
League Pass, Twitter, SPECSN (local)

The Atlanta Dream visits the Los Angeles Sparks for the second of their three meetings this season. The Sparks won the first meeting in June against a Dream team that was still figuring things out and missing key players Tiffany Hayes and Brittney Sykes due to injuries; now, Atlanta is clicking at the right time and are seeking an eighth straight win. A month ago, I would have laughed at that possibility, but the Sparks dropped a game last week to the last-ranked Indiana Fever with a squad that was without Nneka Ogwumike (illness) and Alana Beard (groin injury). Missing one or the other is a blow but with both players out, that spells major problems for Los Angeles (though both players are listed as questionable/game-time decisions for the Dream game). Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray can only do so much and with Atlanta playing as well as they have been, the Sparks will have their hands full.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Chicago Sky at Phoenix Mercury

3:30 pm ET
League Pass

We have another afternoon game as the Chicago Sky (8-17) visit a Phoenix Mercury (15-10) squad that will be without the services of Diana Taurasi, who will serve her one-game suspension for receiving a seventh technical foul this season in the recent loss to the Minnesota Lynx. Without Taurasi and Sancho Lyttle, who is out for the season with a torn ACL, the burden is even greater on Brittney Griner, DeWanna Bonner, and Briann January (Griner especially) to eke out a win. Yvonne Turner and Stephanie Talbot have been great off the bench for Phoenix, but the Sky have beaten the Mercury before (with Taurasi, Griner, and Lyttle in the lineup) and recently dropped a franchise-record 114 points on the hot Dallas Wings (ha -- see what I did there?). The outcome of this game is not so clear-cut and is worth a watch.

[There are no games on Thursday, July 26 or Friday, July 27, due to the All-Star break]

Saturday, July 28, 2018

2018 WNBA All-Star Game

Minneapolis, Minnesota (Target Center)
3:30 pm ET

It’s Team [Candace] Parker vs. Team [Elena] Delle Donne as the Minnesota Lynx host the 2018 WNBA All-Star game in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the Target Center (the Lynx’s home court).

This year’s game format is different for the WNBA and is similar to the NBA’s experiment this past season: the top two All-Star vote-getters were named team captains, and those two picked their own teams regardless of conference or player position. Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx) was actually the top voted-in player alongside Delle Donne, but she opted out of her captaincy duties and just preferred to play; Parker (Los Angeles Sparks) was the third-best player and was named as Moore’s replacement as team captain.

(for a list of unsung heroes who didn’t make the All-Star team but deserved a shot, click here).

Dan Hughes (head coach of the Seattle Storm) and Sandy Brondello (head coach of the Phoenix Mercury) will serve as the All-Star coaches. Both the Storm and the Mercury had the top two records in the league at the time the coaches were named on July 12.

Here are your teams:

Team Parker

Candace Parker (Los Angeles Sparks)

Nneka Ogwumike (Los Angeles Sparks)

Chelsea Gray (Los Angeles Sparks)

Angel McCoughtry (Atlanta Dream)

Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky)

Liz Cambage (Dallas Wings)

Chiney Ogwumike (Connecticut Sun)

Maya Moore (Minnesota Lynx)

Skylar Diggins-Smith (Dallas Wings)

Jewell Loyd (Seattle Storm)

Tina Charles (New York Liberty)

Team Delle Donne

Elena Delle Donne (Washington Mystics)

Kristi Toliver (Washington Mystics)

Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces)

A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas Aces)

Seimone Augustus (Minnesota Lynx)

Sylvia Fowles (Minnesota Lynx)

Brittney Griner (Phoenix Mercury)

DeWanna Bonner (Phoenix Mercury)

Diana Taurasi (Phoenix Mercury)

Sue Bird (Seattle Storm)

Breanna Stewart (Seattle Storm)

The All-Star game will feature a 3-Point Contest at halftime (3:30 pm ET).

Three-Point Contest Participants

Allie Quigley (Chicago Sky) -- 2017 winner

Jewel Loyd (Seattle Storm)

Kelsey Mitchell (Indiana Fever)

Kayla McBride (Las Vegas Aces)

Renee Montgomery (Atlanta Dream)

Kristi Toliver (Washington Mystics)

The winner will get $10,000 donated to the charity of her choice, thanks to a partnership between the WNBA and the Women's National Basketball Player Association (WNBPA) -- the players' union. 

The All-Star weekend will be filled with other entertainment options and celebrity sightings. Stay tuned to the WNBA website (and sign up for the newsletter) and follow both the WNBA and your favorite teams on YouTube in order to get behind-the-scenes videos of team practices, player interviews, and more.

Last year’s All-Star game was a success, and this year’s promises to be even more exciting due to the new format and new faces in Liz Cambage (Dallas), Jewell Loyd (Seattle), and rookie A’ja Wilson (Las Vegas). Also, Nneka (Los Angeles Sparks) and Chiney (Connecticut Sun) Ogwumike will be playing on the same team (Team Parker) for the first time since their college days at Stanford University. Don’t miss it!

While these All-Stars put on a show, the rest of the league will be getting some much-needed rest to prepare for a playoff push in the final games of the regular season, which ends August 19.

[There are no games on Sunday, July 29, 2018, due to the All-Star break. Games will resume on Tuesday, July 31.]

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