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Preview: Battle of rookie guards kicks off Friday night WNBA triple-header

After rookies Arike Ogunbowale (Dallas Wings) and Asia Durr (New York Liberty) face off in Westchester, the Chicago Sky will face the Storm in Seattle and there’s a slight chance Diana Taurasi could make her season debut for the Mercury against the Indiana Fever in Phoenix.

Can Arike Ogunbowale continue to propel the Wings’ recent rise as they take on the Liberty in Westchester?
Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images

Friday night features a trio of potentially tantalizing WNBA games!

First up is a rookie showdown, with Asia Durr and the New York Liberty welcoming Arike Ogunbowale and the Dallas Wings for Pride Night. After tweaking her ankle early in Dallas’ June 9 loss at Washington, Ogunbowale has turned in four steady performances, including a 23-point effort that helped the Wings upset the Sun on Wednesday for their third win of the season. To avoid a third straight loss, the Liberty will need Durr to outduel her counterpart.

In the Pacific Northwest, tier-two teams will do battle. After falling in Las Vegas on Tuesday, the Storm will aim to protect their perfect home record and overtake the Chicago Sky for the fourth position in the league standings. The absence of Jewell Loyd, however, will make the task more difficult. Loyd is expected to miss at least two weeks with a severe ankle sprain. Chicago, therefore, must take advantage. Although unable to best the Mystics in Wednesday’s matinee matchup, the Sky can certify their status as a legitimate playoff contender with a win.

Unfortunately, Diana Taurasi is listed as doubtful to make her season debut against Indiana. Instead, the most Taurasi-like scoring performance in tonight’s Mercury-Fever matchup may come from the other side. Of all the league’s young players, Kelsey Mitchell most demonstrates the diverse, determined scoring ability trademarked by Taurasi. And the resemblance between the Mercury and Fever go further, with Indiana featuring a raw but promising young big in Teaira McCowan — the next generation Brittney Griner. And, of course, there’s the battle of spouses: former Mercury star Candice Dupree versus current Mercury star-slash-wife DeWanna Bonner. Yet, for all the potential storylines, this game might be decided by how much the Fever have (or have not) recovered from their recent travel nightmare.

Game information

New York Liberty (3-7) vs. Dallas Wings (3-6)

When: Friday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m ET

Where: Westchester County Center, White Plains, NY

How to watch: YES Network (New York), WNBA League Pass

Keys to the matchup: While it would be exciting to see Ogunbowale and Durr go shot for shot, the game could be decided by which team owns the paint. The Wings allow 29.8 points in the paint, good for second-best in the league. The Liberty, however, have Tina Charles. Can the combination of the hard-nosed Kayla Thornton, the 6-foot-7 Imani McGee-Stafford and the still inexperienced pair of Azurá Stevens and Megan Gustafson do enough to contain Charles?

Seattle Storm (7-5) vs. Chicago Sky (6-4)

When: Friday, June 28, 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA

How to watch: JOETV (Seattle), The U Too (Chicago), TSN (Canada), NBA TV

Keys to the matchup: Sporting one of the league’s most dynamic offenses, the Sky can get buckets against any opponent, even a defensively-stout squad like the Storm. But can Chicago get enough stops? On the other side, it’s next woman up! Yet again, Natasha Howard and Jordin Canada must elevate their offensive output to steady the short-staffed Storm.

Phoenix Mercury (3-5) vs. Indiana Fever (5-7)

When: Friday, June 28, at 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ

How to watch: CBS Sports Network

Keys to the matchup: In the first matchup between these two teams, Griner and Bonner dominated. With the Fever likely intent on making things more difficult for the pair this time around, the Mercury’s guards must establish themselves as threats by attracting attention that can open up space in the paint for Griner and slashing lanes for Bonner. Phoenix again will need a scoring punch from Briann January and solid play from Leilani Mitchell.