WNBA League Pass Alert: Must-Watch Games (August 14-19)

A preview of select must-see games on WNBA League pass and other viewing options for the week of August 14-19, 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 $8.99 for the entire season. Don’t @ me.

This is the final week of the 2018 WNBA season and seven of the eight playoff spots have already been claimed, in order of current ranking as of Tuesday, August 14:

  • Seattle Storm
  • Atlanta Dream
  • Washington Mystics
  • Connecticut Sun
  • Los Angeles Sparks
  • Phoenix Mercury
  • Minnesota Lynx

These seven are now jockeying for the best seeding possible while two teams (Dallas Wings and Las Vegas Aces) are just trying to make the playoffs, period.

Reminder: 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 #3 and #4 seeds get a single bye (they skip the first round and get to play the first game of the second round on their home court. Seeds #5 through #8 get to play through both elimination rounds (opponents play one game only, and the loser’s postseason is over while the winner advances).

The stakes are high this week. Buckle up.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Dallas Wings at Connecticut Sun

7:00 pm ET
Twitter, League Pass, NBCSB (local)

This may be a more pivotal game for the Dallas Wings, as it will determine how desperate they will be when they meet the Las Vegas Aces on Friday, August 17, to try and claim the eighth and final playoff spot. The magic number is three: any combination of Aces losses/Dallas wins can nab them that #8 seed and with three games left in the season for the Wings, they have to try and rise above the demoralizing combination of an eight-game losing streak plus the firing of their head coach Fred Williams two days ago. If Liz Cambage remains out due to a neck injury (which she incurred during the last time these two teams met on August 8), Dallas’ road to the playoffs gets even rockier.  The Sun currently holds the #4 seed and is within striking distance of the top two seeds, if they play well this final week. With the way Connecticut has been streaking, they have a real chance to solidify a higher seed position.

Chicago Sky at Minnesota Lynx

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

The Chicago Sky were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs on Sunday in a loss to the Connecticut Sun, but they can still give the Minnesota Lynx a run for their money. The Lynx are reeling from Monday’s announcement that franchise stalwart and starting point guard Lindsay Whalen will be retiring at the end of the Lynx’s postseason, whenever that occurs. Expect a lot of sentiment in the Target Center as Whalen plays one of her last home games there, which could be a motivating factor for a defending national championship team that fell to a lowly #7 seed following Sunday’s loss to the number-one ranked Seattle Storm. But, but, but...Minnesota will also be without their premier bench spark Danielle Robinson, who injured her ankle in the Seattle game and had surgery;  and possibly starter Rebekkah Brunson, who has missed the last three games due to a nose injury she received in the August 5 loss to the Atlanta Dream. The Lynx, perhaps more than other teams, really need a higher seed if they hope to extend their postseason; their inconsistencies all season don’t bode very well for a knockout round.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

New York Liberty at Las Vegas Aces

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

The Las Vegas Aces can sneak into the playoffs (they currently hold the #9 seed) with any combination of three Aces wins and Dallas Wings losses, so this is as important a game as the one later this week against the Wings. Las Vegas snapped a five-game losing streak (including the forfeited game against the Washington Mystics) on Sunday with a win over the last-ranked Indiana Fever, but Las Vegas hasn’t notched a quality win since July 19, when they beat the Phoenix Mercury. The good news is that the Aces won the past two games with the Liberty; the bad news is that the Liberty has nothing to lose while the Aces have a lot to gain.

[There are no games scheduled on Thursday, August 16]

Friday, August 17, 2018

Minnesota Lynx at Connecticut Sun

7:00 pm ET
League Pass, NBCSB (local)

The Connecticut Sun is one of the current teams that can give the Minnesota Lynx a lot of problems. The Sun has won the past two meetings between these teams, the last being on July 15. Minnesota has been rather streaky this year, so it’s not clear which version of the Lynx will show up on Friday night. The shock and emotional value from Lindsay Whalen’s retirement announcement would have mostly worn off by now, plus this is a road game without Danielle Robinson (who underwent ankle surgery on Monday, August 13). Hopefully, Rebekkah Brunson will be back in the lineup because without those two players, and with the way Connecticut has been playing, Minnesota is in for a rough time.

Los Angeles Sparks at Washington Mystics

7:00 PM
NBA TV, Monumental (local), SPECSN (local)

This is another game for playoff seeding purposes, as both teams entered the week at #3 (Mystics) and #5 (Sparks). The Mystics have a better shot at snagging one of the top two seeds, though Los Angeles won’t make it easy. This game will have three former league MVPs on the floor in Nneka Ogwumike and Candace Parker (Los Angeles) and Elena Delle Donne (Mystics), plus the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in the Sparks’ Alana Beard and lots of former and present All-Stars. These are two teams that will also shoot a lot of three-pointers, though Los Angeles has more beyond-the-arc firepower than the Mystics, who rely mostly on Kristi Toliver for that task (though Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, and rookie Ariel Atkins can hit the three as well). This could be fun to watch if you’re not interested in the Las Vegas/Dallas game.

Las Vegas Aces at Dallas Wings

8:00 pm
League Pass, FSSW+ (local)

This is THE game for these two teams, and perhaps the most tension-driven one of the week. By this time, both the Aces and the Wings will have played one game this week. Each of them needs at least one more win out of their remaining two regular-season games to make it into the playoffs. Dallas has won the previous two games against the Aces, but their last meeting was June 27; a whole lot has happened since then for both teams. With a playoff appearance on the line (and the first one for the rechristened Aces, who missed the playoffs for the past three years as the San Antonio Stars), this game is going to be intense. If you don’t watch any other game this week, watch this one.

Atlanta Dream at Phoenix Mercury

10:00 pm ET
League Pass

The Atlanta Dream will try to hold on to the #2 seed as they face the Phoenix Mercury, who are trying to move up from the #6 seed. Phoenix has won its last two games (the last one over the Los Angeles Sparks) but the Dream has won its past five. These two teams have split their previous two games and both have not played since their respective wins on Sunday; but while Atlanta is adjusting to the loss of franchise player Angel McCoughtry to a knee injury, the Mercury isn’t doing as well with the loss of Sancho Lyttle (also to a knee injury). Still, Phoenix is the most formidable opponent the Dream will face in this final week of the regular season; can the young and dynamic Dream overcome the veteran savvy of the Mercury? This is another must-see game of the week.

Sunday, August 19, 2018 (last day of the 2018 WNBA regular season)

Los Angeles Sparks at Connecticut Sun

3:00 pm ET
Twitter, League Pass, NBCSB (local), SPECSN (local)

It’s the final meeting of the Ogwumike sisters as Nneka the elder and the Los Angeles Sparks visit Chiney the younger and the Connecticut Sun. The Sun have won their previous two meetings and own the tiebreaker between the teams; this game is a matter of determining seeding, as Connecticut entered the week at #4 and Los Angeles at #5. It’s always fun to see the siblings go at it, and the Sparks' Candace Parker is looking to burnish her potential MVP nod. An interesting question might be: how many three-pointers will be shot in this game? Parker, Chelsea Gray, Essence Carson, and Riquna Williams are all consistent from behind the arc for Los Angeles, and Shekinna Stricklen, Jonquel Jones, Rachel Banham, and Courtney Williams have all been hot from three-point range for Connecticut.

Atlanta Dream at Las Vegas Aces

6:00 pm ET
ESPN3, ATTSN-RM (local)

The Las Vegas Aces may or may not be fighting for their playoff lives in this game, while Atlanta will be trying to lock in the #2 seed and a coveted double-bye. The Aces may also want a bit of revenge since letting their previous loss to the Dream slip away in the fourth quarter. On the flip side, Atlanta may exact a bit of revenge since Angel McCoughtry’s season-ending knee injury occurred against the Aces in the final minutes of the game.

Washington Mystics at Minnesota Lynx

7:00 pm ET

This will be the final WNBA regular season game for Minnesota’s Lindsay Whalen (who will retire at the end of the Lynx’s postseason), so there will be a lot of emotional fuel for the Lynx as they make one last run at securing a higher playoff seeding. The Mystics will also have this final chance to increase their seeding fortunes. If all of the Lynx (minus the recovering Danielle Robinson) are firing on all cylinders (especially Maya Moore), Washington will have a handful to deal with. These teams have not played each other since June 7 and have split their previous two contests. This is another game chock full of former (and present) MVPs and All-Stars and is a fitting end to this year’s regular season.  Watch this for the nostalgia of seeing Lindsay Whalen, one of the best to ever do it, play a regular-season game one last time.

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