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Preview: Fever host Wings, Sparks host Lynx in Thursday doubleheader

The Fever will try to play spoiler against the vulnerable Wings, while one of the WNBA’s most exciting matchups takes center stage to wrap up Thursday night in hoops.

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WNBA Finals - Game Five
The Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks will face off for the eleventh time in the past year Thursday night on ESPN2.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

There are two WNBA games on tonight, one on NBA TV and the other on ESPN2. While there are go-to favorites in each, the outcomes might not be so clear. Here’s what to look for.

Indiana Fever (3-23) vs. Dallas Wings (14-12)

When: Thursday, August 2 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse | TICKETS

How to watch: NBA TV (national TV), FOX Sports Indiana (local market), FOX Sports Southwest Dallas Plus (local market)

Injuries and absences: For the Fever, Victoria Vivians (knee) is probable. For the Wings, Liz Cambage is likely to play after not receiving a suspension for her 7th technical foul.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: Wings 90, Fever 63 (July 5)

Although the Fever are officially out of playoff contention, that doesn’t mean they can’t do their part to shake up the postseason picture anyway. The Wings are sitting in a precarious eighth place, and while their two-game lead over the ninth-place Aces ensures that another loss won’t kick them out of the top eight tonight, it’s still ideal that they end their three-game losing streak.

To the Fever’s credit, they limited the Diggins-Smith/Cambage duo to just 25 points in these teams’ previous meeting. Unfortunately, this opened the door for Azurá Stevens to score a career-high 26 points. While the Wings’ other high scorer in that one, Aerial Powers, is no longer with the team, the Fever must be careful to not let other players slip through the cracks as they focus their attention on Dallas’ two powerhouse players.

The Fever also, simply, need to shoot better. Indiana is fourth in the league in shots taken, but dead last in field goal percentage at just 40.7 percent. They also rank at or near the bottom in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks. Now that Indiana is out of playoff contention, this poses a good opportunity to start experimenting to improve these areas for next season. And if they can spoil some playoff hopes along the way, so be it.

Los Angeles Sparks (15-11) vs. Minnesota Lynx (15-10)

When: Thursday, August 2 at 10 p.m. ET

Where: Staples Center | TICKETS

How to watch: ESPN2

Injuries: For the Sparks, Nneka Ogwumike (illness) is probable.

Storylines to follow

Last meeting: Lynx 83, Sparks 72 (July 5)

One of the league’s most recent postseason matchups of late still hasn’t gotten old. In fact, to still receive marquee billing on ESPN2 in their eleventh meeting of the calendar year speaks to how intriguing this matchup is, even though the defending champions are currently down 2-1 in the season series (what’s preempting WNBA coverage on ESPN this time, you might ask? A casual offseason men’s basketball tournament).

The outcomes of the previous meetings between these teams have really aligned with how these teams’ seasons have gone. In the season opener, a one-point Sparks win demonstrated that both teams were set to pick up where they left off in last year’s Finals. The second meeting, a 77-69 Sparks win, showed that the rivalry was still there, but the Lynx were at the tail-end of a four-game losing streak, still trying to find their way in 2018. And when the Lynx managed a commanding 11-point victory a month ago, they proved that they’re still here to play — and their current third-place position proves it.

In tonight’s game, the Lynx have the clear edge, coming into this one on a three-game winning streak following an incredibly successful All-Star showing on their home floor. And although this particular game is being played in Los Angeles, the Sparks haven’t won at the Staples Center since July 1. With the Sparks having taken one game in this series at home and one away, why shouldn’t the Lynx do the same, just to even things up once more going into the postseason?