When Masked Elena Delle Donne plays, it’s “hakuna matata” for the Mystics.
Delle Donne returned to the court on Friday night, dropping 28 points and 15 rebounds, including draining the dagger that pushed the game to overtime and positioned DC for the win.
With Tiffany Hayes suffering from a sore hamstring, it’s unlikely that the Dream will face the Mystics with “no worries” on Sunday afternoon. On Friday evening, without Hayes, Atlanta was unable to maintain the defensive prowess it has demonstrated of late, registering an atrocious defensive rating of 122.5 as it lost its fourth straight. To stay in the game against a fully operational Mystics squad, the Dream will need to dig deeper on the defensive end.
The Fever, who fell prey to Masked EDD on Friday, will try to avoid dropping their fifth straight game on Sunday against the Sky. Despite accumulating losses, Indiana has remained competitive. Chicago, in contrast, recently has shown the poise necessary to win close contests, coming back to beat Atlanta in the final seconds last Wednesday.
Then, the Aces aim to reclaim the top spot in the standings when they meet the Lynx. As A’ja Wilson likely is out with an injured ankle, it will be interesting to see how head coach Bill Laimbeer tweaks his rotation. Possibly, Dearica Hamby will have additional time to prove her All-Star worthiness. Regardless, Laimbeer will receive no sympathy from Cheryl Reeve, who seemingly has had to negotiate an ever-changing roster this season. On Sunday, she again will have the opportunity to see how Temi Fagbenle best fits with the rest of the team.
Washington Mystics (10-6) vs. Atlanta Dream (5-13)
When: Sunday, July 21, at 3 p.m. ET
Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena, Washington, DC
How to watch: NBA TV, NBA TV Canada, NBC Sports Washington, Bounce TV, WSB NOW
Keys to the matchup: “It’s a make or miss league.” If this cliché holds true on Sunday, expect the Mystics (the league’s best-shooting team) to defeat the Dream (the worst-shooting team). However, Atlanta is second only to DC in three-point attempts per game. So, the Dream will at least try to go shot-for-shot with the Mystics. A Sunday afternoon shootout between Renee Montgomery and Kristi Toliver certainly could be fun!
Chicago Sky (10-8) vs. Indiana Fever (6-13)
When: Sunday, July 21, at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL
How to watch: NBA TV, NBA TV Canada, The U Too
Keys to the matchup: Slooty versus Wheezy! The pair of All-Star point guards will each attempt to steer their team to victory. Courtney Vandersloot would seem to have the advantage, as her teammates more consistently have converted the scoring opportunities she creates. Yet, in the previous two matchups between these teams, the Fever held the Sky to two of their lowest-rated offensive performances of the season. While Chicago managed to win the first matchup 70-64, Indiana claimed victory in the second, 76-69, spurred by a season-high 28 points from Erica Wheeler. A lockdown performance by the Fever, in combination with another scoring from outburst from their first-time All-Star point guard, could put them back in the win column.
Las Vegas Aces (11-6) vs. Minnesota Lynx (10-8)
When: Sunday, July 21, at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV
How to watch: MYLVTV, WNBA League Pass
Keys to the matchup: In the early June matchup between these two teams, a five-point victory for the Aces, Kayla McBride and Kelsey Plum turned in strong offensive performances, scoring 22 and 21 points, respectively. Considering the Lynx pride themselves on their defense, including the perimeter pressure that Odyssey Sims and Danielle Robinson often provide, shutting down the Aces’ guards should be a priority. If Sims and Robinson succeed, and Sylvia Fowles again forces Liz Cambage into an inefficient scoring night, Minnesota can get the win in Sin City.