WNBA League Pass Alert: Must-Watch Games (July 30-August 5)

A preview of must-see games that can be viewed on WNBA League Pass for the week of July 30-August 5, 2018.

Disclaimer: All stats are courtesy of the official WNBA site. 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.

The 2018 All-Star break is over, players have gotten some much-needed rest and rejuvenation (and team practices), and it’s time for the final games of the regular season. Some pre-All-Star games caused a bit of disturbance in the Playoff Force, and the remaining games will be literal battles to determine not only where the top teams rank in the playoffs, but whether lower-ranked teams can make it into the playoffs at all.

Don’t forget: the top eight teams, regardless of conference, make it into the playoffs and the top two teams get a double-bye (they don’t have to play the first two knockout, one-and-done rounds and can skip straight to the semifinals). The struggle is real in the WNBA streets.

We have a full slate of games this week, so settle in and mark your calendars.

Tuesday, July 30, 2018

Washington Mystics at Atlanta Dream

7:00 pm ET
Twitter, League Pass, FSSE-ATL (local)

The seventh-ranked Washington Mystics (14-11) visit the second-place Atlanta Dream (16-9) in an attempt to avoid a season sweep: the Dream has won the last two of their games against the Mystics. Atlanta was on fire prior to the break and had two players participating in All-Star activities (Angel McCoughtry was on the winning Team Parker and Renee Montgomery was in the Three-Point Shooting Contest). The looming questions are: how long can the Dream hold on to the number-two spot in the rankings, and can the Mystics get it together and move higher than seventh? This is going to be a good one.

Chicago Sky at Dallas Wings

8:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, FSSW+ (local), The U Too (local)

The last time these teams met, the Chicago Sky (9-17) hung 114 points on the Dallas Wings (14-11). Prior to that, Dallas won. In their final meeting of the season, it remains to be seen which team will hold the tie-breaker. Chicago was on the upswing prior to the break with a win over the Phoenix Mercury, led by rookie Diamond DeShields and veterans Courtney Vandersloot and sniper Allie “Quick Draw” Quigley, who was not only on the winning Team Parker in the All-Star Game but who also successfully defended her Three-Point Shooting Contest title (29 made 3-pointers!). Dallas currently sits at #6 in the rankings while the Sky are trying to sneak into the playoffs from the number 10 spot. This is another game that may be worth your while.

Seattle Storm at Phoenix Mercury

10:00 pm ET
League Pass, Twitter

The number-one ranked Seattle Storm (19-7) and the number-five ranked Phoenix Mercury (15-11) played each other twice during the first week of the 2018 WNBA season (each team won one game); their last game was on May 23. A whole lot has changed since then; the Mercury, which made strategic offseason moves to facilitate a strong run toward the franchise’s fourth championship, is now looking very vulnerable as they face Seattle for the final time this season. Phoenix’s recent addition of Deveraux Peters is an attempt to staunch the bleeding, but she cannot compensate for the depth lost when Sancho Lyttle went out for the season with a torn ACL. Peters also cannot compensate for both Diana Taurasi’s and Brittney Griner’s penchants for foul trouble. This game will show how much fight the Mercury has left and if Griner has overcome the back spasms that hampered her in the pre-break loss to the Chicago Sky.  

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

New York Liberty at Connecticut Sun

7:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, NBCSB (local), MSG+ (local)

The New York Liberty (7-18) and the Connecticut Sun (14-12) are so interesting to watch play each other because the outcome is never certain. Both teams have beat each other in road games earlier in the season on buzzer-beating three-pointers. The difference is that the Sun has really gelled together to get contributions from 1-12 on their roster, while the Liberty are still overly dependent upon franchise pillar Tina Charles. They will be even more so with Shavonte Zellous out with an ankle injury and Epiphanny Prince’s leg (injured during New York’s loss to the Minnesota Lynx) of concern. With increased production from Connecticut’s star guard Courtney Williams and the team’s bench, the outcome of this game is fairly certain -- but it will still be fun to watch.

Phoenix Mercury at Las Vegas Aces

10:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, ATTSN-RM (local)

Interestingly enough, these two teams have each won one of their two previous games. This is the third and final time they’ll meet this season and the Las Vegas Aces (12-13) have proven that they are not to be taken lightly as they try to secure the eighth and final playoff spot (Las Vegas currently sits at #9). There are a lot of x-factors in this game (and we’re not talking about the Mercury fans): namely, can the Aces lock-in for all 40 minutes and play superior defense, especially on the three-point line? Can Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner stay out of foul trouble (and/or keep from getting ejected)? Will DeWanna Bonner have to carry the team on her back again? This one is going to be good.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Minnesota Lynx at Los Angeles Sparks

10:00 pm ET
ESPN2

The #4 Los Angeles Sparks (15-11) will host the defending champion #3 Minnesota Lynx (15-10) in what is sure to be a good game for their fourth and final season meeting (Los Angeles has won two of the last three games). The Sparks will hopefully see the return of defensive aces Nneka Ogwumike (illness) and Alana Beard (groin injury). The Lynx, while looking shaky at times during this season, seems to have gotten back on track although a championship repeat looks murky. Los Angeles hasn’t looked as strong as is has earlier this season as injuries have taken their toll. Still, even in the absence of Ogwumike and Beard, the triumvirate of Candace Parker, Chelsea Gray, and Essence Carson have kept the team afloat. Odyssey Sims and bench sparks Riquna Williams and rookie Maria Vadeeva have been strong contributors as well. As long as Minnesota has their starting five plus the bench boosts from Danielle Robinson and Cecelia Zandalasini, they won’t go down easy as both teams are within striking distance of the top two spots and the coveted double-bye. This is going to be very entertaining.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Chicago Sky at Atlanta Dream

7:00 pm ET
League Pass, FSSE-ATL (local), The U Too (local)

The Chicago Sky and the Atlanta Dream have split their previous two contests, and this final game of the season will determine the tiebreaker. The Sky was starting to gain some momentum prior to the All-Star break, while the Dream was on an eight-game winning streak. While one can’t automatically discount this scrappy Chicago team as they try to clinch a playoff berth, Atlanta is coming together at the right time and is a lot more formidable than they were during these teams’ last meeting on June 27. Get your popcorn.

Las Vegas Aces at Washington Mystics

7:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, NBCSWA (local)

The upstart Las Vegas Aces visit the Washington Mystics as each team tries to clinch the season tiebreaker in their third and final meeting of the season (the series is currently split 1-1). These teams haven’t played each other since the Mystics handed the Aces their first franchise win (as the Las Vegas Aces) on June 1. Since then, the Mystics have wobbled a bit in their consistency while the Aces have grown stronger and have won two straight games heading into the All-Star break and seven of their last ten games (including quality wins over the Los Angeles Sparks, Minnesota Lynx, and Phoenix Mercury). Rookie A’Ja Wilson and veteran Kayla McBride are fresh off their first and second All-Star appearances, respectively, as part of Team (Elena) Delle Donne (which lost the All-Star Game). This will be another good game to watch.

Minnesota Lynx at Seattle Storm

10:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, Joe TV (local)

It’s another battle of the heavyweights this week as the Lynx hope to move up in the standings while Seattle tries to hold on to the top spot. This is the second of three meetings this season; Minnesota won the last game on June 26. Sue Bird, Maya Moore, Jewell Loyd, Sylvia Fowles, Breanna Stewart, Rebekkah Brunson, Natasha Howard, Lindsay Whalen, and Seimone Augustus, all on the same court. Nothing else needs to be said: just watch and enjoy.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Las Vegas Aces at Connecticut Sun

3:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, NBCSB (local)

The Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun are battling for the eighth and final playoff spot in their third and final game of the season (the series is split 1-1), so this game determines the crucial tiebreaker. While the Aces have grown stronger, the Sun dipped a bit before correcting course after the return of Alyssa Thomas. Both of these teams are young, so it will be up to the longer-tenured veterans on each squad--as well as each team’s reigning (Sun) and former (Aces) Coach of the Year--to lead their teams to the win. This may be a rivalry in the making.

Washington Mystics at Dallas Wings

4:00 pm ET
League Pass, FSSW+ (local), Monumental (local)

This is the second meeting of the Dallas Wings and the Washington Mystics this season and will be the first meeting of these teams since they swapped players (Dallas’ Aerial Powers for Washington’s Tayler Hill) shortly before the All-Star break  Both teams were a bit up and down before the break and are looking to shake up the rankings logjam (as of July 30, Dallas was ranked #6 and Washington was ranked #7). The onus is more on Dallas than Washington for the win, though the game is important for both teams. If Liz Cambage can have another high-scoring game for Dallas, the Mystics will be in trouble.

Phoenix Mercury at Los Angeles Sparks

7:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, SPECSN (local)

This is another case of vastly changed fortunes since the Phoenix Mercury and the Los Angeles Sparks last met on May 27. Two weeks ago, the Mercury held the #2 spot in the league. Now, they are struggling to stay afloat due to injuries and tempers. Los Angeles has managed to stay in the top 5 of the league’s rankings but their grip has been precarious, also due to injuries. This is an important game for both teams; the question is not whether or not the Mercury or the Sparks will make the playoffs (both will, barring some horrific occurrence), but what their respective seedings will be.

Atlanta Dream at Minnesota Lynx

7:00 pm ET
League Pass, FSNTH (local), FSSE-ATL (local)

This game is going to be good simply because of the “watch the throne” implications. The Atlanta Dream enters this week’s slate of games in the #2 spot, while the Minnesota Lynx are ranked #3. As the defending champions, Minnesota is hoping to win back-to-back championships while Atlanta is seeking their first. Atlanta has youth, the Lynx have experience. The previous two games between these teams have been split 1-1; this third and final meeting of the season will determine the tiebreaker, which is important for playoff seeding. X-factors for each team include Jessica Breland and Elizabeth Williams (Atlanta), Cecelia Zandalasini (Lynx), and the benches of both teams. If any of those players get hot, the entire complexion of the game changes. I’m excited, and you should be too.

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