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Preview: Saturday night WNBA THRILLple-header

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The Dream will take on the Fever in Indianapolis, the Liberty will play the Lynx in Minneapolis and the Sun will face the Mercury in Phoenix.

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2014 WNBA Finals - Game Three
DeWanna Bonner

Welcome to another hot night in the WNBA! Here’s how to watch and what’s in store:

Dream (6-4) vs. Fever (0-10)

When: Saturday June 16 at 7:00 p.m. EST

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, IN | TICKETS

How to watch: WNBA League Pass (worldwide) | WNDY (Indianapolis market)

Injury report: For the Dream, Brittney Sykes (right foot) is out. For the Fever, Shenise Johnson (left ACL rehab) remains out.

Storylines to follow

Can Atlanta keep it going on the road? The Dream’s strong win against Indiana on Thursday was a result of dominant scoring from current Player of the Week Tiffany Hayes as well as from Angel McCoughtry and others who scored in double figures. But key minutes by the second unit changed the momentum of the game and sealed the deal for a Dream win. But to snatch back-to-back wins in two days against a frustrated, desperate Fever team, Atlanta will have to rely on production from their bench as well as on their cement-block defense.

Can the Fever will themselves to their first win of the season? After being handed their 10th straight loss of the season by Atlanta on Thursday, the Fever are no doubt eager to take immediate corrective action at home. The loss is fresh in their minds — as is the fact that they were defeated by a measly five points. On a night when Kelsey Mitchell was limited to two points in scoring, Candice Dupree, Natalie Achonwa and others had big games. If all of the starters can get it going in the same game, a victory should be within reach. But it will not be anything like easy, as Indiana now appears to have a target on their heads, with none of the other 11 teams in the league wanting to be the squad that lets the Fever get their first win.

How the game will be decided: If defensive specialist Jessica Breland can hold Mitchell to single-digit scoring and Atlanta’s bench repeats their strong performance from Thursday, the Dream should win this one. If Kelsey Mitchell plays like Kelsey Mitchell and her teammates show up, however, Indiana will snag their first win of the 2018 WNBA season.


Liberty (3-5) vs. Lynx (3-6)

When: Saturday June 16 at 8:00 p.m. EST

Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN | TICKETS

How to watch: NBA TV (nationally) | Fox Sports North (Minneapolis market) | MSG+ (New York market)

Injury report: Both teams are good to go.

Storylines to follow

Will the Lynx benefit from a break in their schedule? Minnesota last played on June 9 in an 89-75 losing effort to the Connecticut Sun. Head Coach Cheryl Reeve will have undoubtedly used that time to try to get her team in sync and firing on all cylinders. But the Lynx have not looked like the Lynx all season, so even a winning effort will be received by Minnesota fans with skepticism until the team piles win on top of win and gets above .500. But this game, following a week of rest, gives the Lynx the best chance to remind everyone why they’re the champs.

Will New York be able to take liberties with the Lynx’s weaknesses? A major factor in Minnesota’s dominance in the Maya Moore era has been concealing any weaknesses they may have had behind wins. Now sitting at 3-6 behind the Liberty (who are at 3-5), teams have six Lynx losses to pick apart in search for flaws. If the Liberty can take advantage of these shortcomings, they can emerge as the latest team to defeat the reigning champs.

How the game will be decided: If Tina Charles, Bria Hartley and Kia Nurse all score in double figures for New York — with Charles and Nurse with at least 20 points apiece — the Liberty can get the win. But the reigning champs have much more to prove, so if Charles and Nurse go for 25, Sylvia Fowles and Maya Moore will be looking to go for 30 points or more. But the Lynx will not have to place the scoring load on one or two players if Lindsay Whalen returns to Whalenian form. If Whalen repeats the poor performances fans have seen from her so far this season, however, it will be on Fowles, Moore, Seimone Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson to get it done ... who so far have not been able to carry the load victory on a consistent basis.


Sun (7-2) vs. Mercury (8-3)

When: Saturday June 16 at 10:00 p.m. EST

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, AZ | TICKETS

How to watch: WNBA League Pass (worldwide)

Injury report: Neither team provided games notes by the time of publication.

Storylines to follow

Can the Mercury take advantage of the setting Sun for a seventh straight win? That’s right. Phoenix has won six straight games for an 8-3 record, moving from the middle of the WNBA pack to third in the standings. They got past the Wings in Dallas earlier in the week, but by just three points in an ugly contest Dallas should have won. Brittney Griner fouled out of that game and other Phoenix players found themselves in foul trouble too. Level heads must prevail and players must not succumb to the relaxation of home if they hope to get by this Sun team, which will be playing their second game in a back-to-back on the road. Prime time for Phoenix to pick them apart ... if they don’t let their guard down.

Will the Sun overcome a losing conundrum? After coasting in the #1 spot for much of the season, Connecticut is facing their first real challenges of the season. They have lost two games in a row — the second of which was just last night to Seattle. With the rest of the league now figuring this team out, it will take a few players having big games of their lives for the Sun to get past a hungry Mercury team on the chase for another WNBA Championship. Chiney Ogwumike and Jasmine Thomas put up big numbers last night for the Sun. But to beat Phoenix, their teammates will have to help them out.

How the game will be decided: The Mercury will have their X-factor cheering them on but, for the Sun, the concern will have to be the fatigue factor, after Ogwumike and Thomas put up 30 and 29 points, respectively, in last night’s losing effort against the Storm. If Phoenix is mentally keyed in, with strong performances from DeWanna Bonner and Sancho Lyttle, the Mercury will be hard to beat.


Enjoy the games!