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Preview: Mystics host Liberty, Storm host Sparks in Thursday night action

Washington looks to capitalize on New York’s recent struggles, while an injury-stricken Los Angeles team tries to stay in first place against a Seattle team looking to get back on track.

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WNBA Finals - Game One

There are two WNBA games on the schedule tonight, and both are nationally-televised. Here’s how to watch.

Washington Mystics (9-5) vs. New York Liberty (4-9)

When: Thursday, June 28 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Capital One Arena | TICKETS

How to watch: NBA TV (national TV), NBC Sports Washington (Washington-area TV), MSG+ (New York-area TV)

Injuries: For the Mystics, Marissa Coleman (ankle) and Ariel Atkins (concussion) are out.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: This is the team’s first meeting of the season.

In many ways, these two teams are remarkably similar. Both are led by players who score about 19 points, dish about 4.5 assists, and grab 6.5 rebounds per game. Both have definitive star power in Tina Charles and Elena Delle Donne. And both teams like to shoot from beyond the arc.

But this season, their opposite records say a lot more about these teams. The Liberty have struggled to score, averaging just 75.5 points per game. In their past three games—all losses—they averaged just 67 points, being held to a season-low 54 against the Sparks. That’s not to say there haven’t been any bright spots, though: Amanda Zahui B, for one, came off the bench to put up 21 points against the Sparks, and has been generally reliable lately.

Even still, New York is shooting under 40 percent in recent games, which isn’t a good look going into a matchup with a Washington team with three straight wins and three straight games having scored 88 or more points. If the Liberty want to avoid a blowout loss, they’ll need to find some way to find the bottom of the net, relying on both their stars and their bench to get the job done.

Seattle Storm (10-5) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (11-3)

When: Thursday, June 28 at 9:30 p.m. ET

Where: KeyArena | TICKETS

How to watch: ESPN2

Injuries and absences: For the Storm, Alysha Clark (ankle) is probable. For the Sparks, Nneka Ogwumike (back) is questionable, Sydney Wiese (knee) is out and Cappie Pondexter was released earlier today.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: Storm 88, Sparks 63 (June 7)

Seattle, for a while, was practically untouchable. But since an early five-game win streak put them in second place behind only the undefeated Connecticut Sun, Seattle has had issues stringing wins together. Their pair of recent two-game win streaks ended in 12-point losses to the Aces and the Lynx, games where while Seattle didn’t necessarily fail to score, they just failed to score enough by their own lofty standards.

But they may get a little bit of a break tonight. Last time these teams met, Nneka Ogwumike led all scorers with 19 points, but coming off a back injury, it’s hard to tell how much (if any) playing time she’ll see tonight. While the Sparks have added a couple of new faces to the bench in the past month in Maria Vadeeva and Karlie Samuelson, big performances from Candace Parker and Chelsea Gray are the story of the Sparks in June, both of whom stepped up in Ogwumike’s absence in the team’s Tuesday win over the Wings.

Meanwhile, Breanna Stewart and Kayla McBride are continuing to come up big for the Storm, even in their losses, and Sue Bird dished 9 assists in the game against the Lynx (she didn’t play in the loss to the Aces). If Seattle can reprise the team effort that got them their first win against the Sparks, including continuing to shoot the three, they could notch a second comfortable victory, whether or not the injured Alysha Clark sees the court.