Previews: Sparks face tough test

The Los Angeles Sparks face a tough one against the Connecticut Sun on Saturday night. The Sparks are currently in ninth place, but still have two more games to play than the eighth-place New York Liberty. The Sparks have gotten back their superstar Nneka Ogwumike, but have lost two in a row. The Sun rest at the top of the WNBA. They have a stunning 19-6 record led by their three All-Stars: Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones.

© Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images Nneka Ogwumike with Brionna Jones guarding her.

️ ️ ️

— Los Angeles Sparks (@LASparks) August 27, 2021

This Sparks and Sun played each other last Thursday in a close game. The Sun were able to come out victorious, 76-72, thanks to the dominate performances of Brionna Jones and Jonquel Jones. The Sparks hung around thanks to a phenomenal performance from Nia Coffey, who had 18 points off of the bench, but it wasn’t enough as the Sun did an incredible job of keeping the Sparks a few possessions away for the entire fourth quarter. The Sun dominated the boards, which they needed to do since they shot 25 percent from three and 43 percent from the field.

At the same time as the Sparks/Sun game, the Dallas Wings and Washington Mystics are playing in a game with huge playoff implications. The Wings are 11-14 and currently sit seventh in the standings while the Mystics are 9-15 and currently sit tenth. The first eight teams make the playoffs so a Wings victory would put them 2.5 games in front of the Mystics while a Mystics victory would close the gap between the teams to a mere half game.

Both teams have to feel good about where they’re at. The Wings are 2-2 in their last four games and they control their playoff destiny. The Mystics are only a half game back from the eighth and final playoff spot.

Rallied and got the W.

Take a look back at the best moments from last night’s win ⤵️

— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) August 27, 2021

Both teams just faced each other on Thursday, so we have recent data on how they fare against each other. The game was a nail-biter as the Wings were able to pull away and win 82-77. You can read our full recap of that game here. Arike Ogunbowale played magnificently, scoring 26 points.

The Las Vegas Aces and Indiana Fever play in the early game on Saturday and are having polar opposite seasons. The Aces are having another dominant year and are currently 18-7 and sitting at second overall in the WNBA. Meanwhile, the Fever are 5-18 and are the worst team record-wise in the WNBA with little to no hope of playing playoff basketball.

This matchup is a tough one for the Fever. During their last matchup, the Aces dominated 113-77 with the Aces’ three-headed monster of Dearica Hamby, Liz Cambage, and A’ja Wilson combining for 60 points. Hamby will be out with an ankle sprain on Saturday though. The Fever had a balanced attack with four players in double digits, but they shot a woeful 38% from the field and were out-rebounded 36-32.

“The Savvy Vet” @Azure analyzed the plays from Q4 to determine @justDROB‘s 83.1 #WNBACrunchTime rating from her impact on the team’s chance to win based on the time remaining.

— WNBA (@WNBA) August 27, 2021

A Fever victory will be a tall order, but anything can happen. A road to victory will likely call for a good offensive game from Kelsey Mitchell. Teaira McCowan will have to crash the boards and win the rebounding battle. Bench production will have to try to keep up with the Aces’ offensive firepower. Perhaps a bench player like Victoria Vivians could have a good game. Vivians had 12 points in 19 minuets the last time the Fever faced the Aces.

Game information

Connecticut Sun (19-6) vs Los Angeles Sparks (10-15)

When: Saturday Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT

How to watch: NBC Sports, Spectrum Sportsnet, NBA TV

Key to the matchup: The Sparks need to win the rebounding battle and come out firing on all cylinders to start the game. They can’t start with 10 points in the first quarter like they did Thursday night. The Sun need to shoot better than below average from three and the field. They have every advantage going into this game. They have the better record, more star power, it’s a home game, and they have won seven games in a row. Don’t fix what isn’t broken, just play Sun basketball and this game could be over quickly.

Sparks injury report: Chiney Ogumike (out; right knee), Kristi Tolliver (questionable; hand), Jasmine Walker (out for season; right knee)

Sun injury report: Alyssa Thomas (out for season; Achilles)

Washington Mystics (9-15) vs Dallas Wings (11-14)

When: Saturday, Aug 28, 7 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment & Sports Arena in Washington D.C.

How to watch: Facebook, NBC Sports Washington, BSSW +

Key to the matchup: The Dallas Wings want to keep utilizing Arike Ogunbowale, who had a stellar performance against the Mystics just a couple of days ago. The Mystics need to take care of home court and get this much-needed victory against the Wings.

Wings injury report: Satou Sabally (out; Achilles), Allisha Gray (out; concussion protocol)

Mystics injury report: Tina Charles (out; left gluteal strain), Elena Delle Donne (questionable; back)

Indiana Fever (5-18) vs. Las Vegas Aces (18-7)

When: Saturday, Aug. 28 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: Bally Sports Indiana, NBA TV, MyLVTV, STIRR

Key to the matchup: The Fever need to win the battle on the boards and stay competitive during the first half. The Aces are an absolutely stacked team and, if the Fever don’t start off well, the game could get ugly early.

Aces injury report: Angel McCoughtry (out for season; knee), Dearica Hamby (out; ankle)

Fever Injury report: Chelsey Perry (out; right knee), Bernadett Határ (out; right ankle), Kysre Gondrezick (out; personal leave)

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