WNBA League Pass Alert: Must-Watch Games (August 7 - 12)

A preview of must-see games on WNBA League Pass or other programming for the week of August 7-12, 2018.

Disclaimer: All stats and league standings are courtesy of the official WNBA site.  Standings and 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 WNBA regular season ends on August 19 and the playoffs begin on August 21. In what many consider as one of the most competitive seasons ever in the league (if not the most competitive), the playoff race is tighter than anticipated. With the exception of the Seattle Storm, which was the first team to officially clinch a playoff berth in their win over the Minnesota Lynx last week, the rest of the league is trying to get in where they fit in. Alas, the New York Liberty and Indiana Fever have been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Las Vegas Aces at Atlanta Dream

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

This will be the second of three meetings between these two teams this season. The rocking red-hot Atlanta Dream are the prohibitive favorites in this contest, especially given the Las Vegas Aces’ inconsistent play and that this is a road game for them. That being said, if the Aces get back to the flow they were into before the All-Star break, they could give Atlanta problems (Atlanta won the June 8 game by only 4 points).

Minnesota Lynx at Chicago Sky

8:30 pm ET
Twitter, League Pass, The U Too (local)

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a game between a defending national champion and one of the lowest-ranked teams in the league (the Sky currently sit at #10), but the Lynx have been slipping all season (they’re currently ranked #7). They’ve lost their last three games, Maya Moore’s shots have been off, and they are looking nowhere near the dominant team that hoisted the franchise’s fourth trophy last season. Chicago, on the other hand, is inconsistent yet talented: when they’re on, they’re on and when they’re not, they’re pretty close (and they beat the Lynx in their first meeting of the season, back on July 7). Don’t let their ranking fool you; if the Sky plays well in these remaining games (and as long as they have Allie Quigley, Courtney Vandersloot, Diamond DeShields and Cheyenne Parker, they will), they can sneak into the playoffs.

Washington Mystics at Phoenix Mercury

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

The Phoenix Mercury is another championship-caliber team that hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. It can’t be stated enough that the loss of Sancho Lyttle to an ACL injury has completely mucked up the works in Phoenix; they’ve lost three of their last four games to quality teams and league rivals (Seattle Storm and Los Angeles Sparks) and the upstart Chicago Sky. The dynamic duo of Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner is now expected to shoulder a load that they hadn’t intended to shoulder, which is why Lyttle joined the Mercury in the first place. he Mystics, on the other hand, recently won their second straight game on a buzzer-beater by sharpshooter Kristi Toliver against the Dallas Wings. Washington is fully healthy and currently sits at #4 in the league (Phoenix is at #6), with one win currently separating them from the Sparks and the #3 spot. These teams have split their previous two contests and this one will decide the tiebreaker. The Mercury may make the playoffs, but how long they last is up for debate.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Connecticut Sun at Dallas Wings

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

The Connecticut Sun have been rocking and rolling. They’ve won three straight games and currently sit in the #5 spot in the league rankings. Dallas has been struggling even before franchise player Skylar Diggins-Smith sat out with a facial injury and are currently in the eighth and final playoff spot after a heartbreaking loss to the Washington Mystics. The Wings have the talent and the drive, but can they get it together in time to secure a place in the playoffs? Do they have an answer for the hot hands of Jasmine Thomas, Courtney Williams, and Jonquel Jones? Liz Cambage and Diggins-Smith are a formidable duo, but they can’t solve every problem. The Dallas bench will have to show up and show out, because Connecticut's bench certainly will. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Seattle Storm at Washington Mystics

11:30 am ET
NBA TV, League Pass, Monumental (local)

If the Washington Mystics continue playing at a high level, this lunchtime game could very well be a playoff matchup. The Storm are at the top of the rankings heap with a bit of a cushion; the Mystics could feasibly surge to take one of the top two spots. Each team’s X-factor will determine their progress; for the Mystics, it’s Natasha Cloud or Tierra Hawkins (or both). For the Storm, it’s Natasha Howard (her recent performance against the Minnesota Lynx was just...wow.). Seattle’s not invulnerable, but they are literally the team to beat right now.

Los Angeles Sparks at Atlanta Dream

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

The Sparks and the Dream have split their previous two contests; this final game between the teams in this season is a tiebreaker. Los Angeles is seeing a resurgence behind the insane play of Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray, but Atlanta has gotten even stronger since these teams last met on July 24 (which was a Dream win on the road). They are currently ranked #3 and #4 at the time of publication. This will be one of the definite must-see games of the week.

Minnesota Lynx at Las Vegas Aces

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

Almost two months have passed since the Aces’ Kelsey Plum called the Lynx players “old” right before those “old” players beat Las Vegas. Since then, the Aces have beaten them in turn and the Lynx have been looking rather elderly of late. This tiebreaker game will be a battle between two teams which have been out of step this season; this was expected of the young Aces but the defending champion, battle-tested, veteran Lynx? Not so much.  We’ll see which version of each team shows up; that alone is worth the watch because unlike at the beginning of the season, the Lynx’s victory is not guaranteed.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Connecticut Sun at Chicago Sky

9:00 pm ET
League Pass, NBCSB (local), The U Too (local)

This game should be subtitled, “Threepalooza.” because between Chicago’s Allie Quigley and Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones and Shekinna Stricklen, there will be more three-pointers than a person could handle. It is the first of two back-to-back games for these two games, which are also their final meetings of the regular season. A lot has changed since these clubs last met in June (a Sky loss): Chicago lost Jamierra Faulkner for the season; Alex Bentley and Layshia Clarendon switched teams (Atlanta and Connecticut) via trade; Alyssa Thomas sat out with an injury and returned; Courtney Vandersloot triple-doubled and made the franchise’s assists record (15) in a home game against Dallas ; Quigley won the 2018 WNBA All-Star 3-Point shooting contest (and was part of the winning Team Parker); Jones has taken another leap for the Sun and her teammate Courtney Williams became a force of nature.  I’m here for all of it.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Dallas Wings at Atlanta Dream

2:00 pm ET
NBA TV, League Pass, FSSE-ATL (local), FSSW+ (local)

These teams last played each other in two games back in May (both Atlanta losses). At the time, the Dallas Wings were on the come-up and the Atlanta Dream were still trying to figure things out; now, the Dream have cracked their own code and it’s Dallas that’s trying to figure things out. Expect this to be a scrappy and emotional game, which begs the question of how tightly will the referees call it? I foresee a lot of trips to the free-throw line for both teams, and maybe a technical foul or two; there could even be an ejection, depending on how upset Dallas head coach Fred Williams (or Liz Cambage) gets. Buckle up and get your popcorn.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Atlanta Dream at New York Liberty

2:30 pm ET
League Pass, MSG (local)

While the New York Liberty won’t make the playoffs, the Atlanta Dream most certainly will, barring any freak incidents. This game, as all games are from here on out, is a must-win. The Dream is still holding on to the #2 spot in the standings, but the Los Angeles Sparks (#3) and Washington Mystics (#4) aren’t far behind. It’s always entertaining to see the Liberty and the Dream go at it, but Atlanta can’t treat this as a throwaway game. Tina Charles, despite her team not making the playoffs and the probable absence of both Epiphanny Prince and Shavonte Zellous, will bring it every night. Atlanta has to be ready to respond.

Dallas Wings at Washington Mystics

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

The Mystics handed Dallas their fifth straight loss last week, thanks to a patented Kristi Toliver dagger with 1.2 seconds left in the game. The Wings were without Skylar Diggins-Smith for the second game in a row, as she recovered from a facial injury incurred in a previous game against the Chicago Sky; it showed, as Dallas couldn’t quite get it together without their floor general.  Hopefully, the Wings can get some retribution, but Washington has been making their move up the rankings and are fully healthy. The addition of Aerial Powers (acquired in a trade with Dallas before the All-Star break) has boosted their already formidable lineup; it will take another monster game by Liz Cambage and the Dallas bench to pull this one off.

Chicago Sky at Connecticut Sun

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

Another game of “Threepalooza” (See above description of an earlier game)! WOOT! These teams are just fun to watch.

Los Angeles Sparks at Phoenix Mercury

7:00 pm ET
ESPN 2

The Phoenix Mercury will be looking for some payback after narrowly losing to their archrival Los Angeles Sparks last week. The Mercury will have had some earlier games this week to get back into a fighting rhythm, but there’s not much you can do when Los Angeles’ Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray get hot; they’ll give the reigning 3-point WNBA career record holder Diana Taurasi and Briann January runs for their money beyond the arc. The defensive matchups will be a good watch: DeWanna Bonner and Brittney Griner against Nneka Ogwumike and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Alana Beard (don’t forget, Parker can D up too). Fun times.

Honorable Mention:

Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx

7:00 pm ET
ESPN3, FSNTH (local)

If you’re a die-hard Storm or Lynx fan, then this game’s for you. But given Minnesota’s most recent performance against Seattle and their recent trend of losing at home in the Target Center, there is a good chance that the Storm will beat the Lynx.  But, it only takes a night of Breanna Stewart getting into foul trouble for Seattle or Jewell Loyd going cold to turn the tides, so who knows how this game will actually turn out?

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