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Preview: Aces, Sun battle for season series win, No. 2 playoff seed

The Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun will meet for the third and final time Friday in a game with major postseason implications. Meanwhile, the New York Liberty will try to stave off playoff elimination and the Chicago Sky get set to face a familiar foe.

Connecticut Sun v Las Vegas Aces
Jonquel Jones (left) and Dearica Hamby will take center stage on Friday as the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun battle for playoff positioning.
Photo by Todd Lussier/NBAE via Getty Images

With a little over two weeks left in the WNBA regular season, the playoff race is heating up. While a quick look at the standings gives us a pretty good idea of who will be competing in the postseason, final seeding is still very much in question.

In particular, the top three teams in the league — Washington, Connecticut and Las Vegas — are all within a game and a half of each other. All three teams will be in action on Friday, with the Aces playing the Sun in a game that will be crucial in determining playoff position.

Making the matchup even more intriguing is that it’s the final time these teams will meet in the regular season, with the series currently sitting at one win apiece. The Sun eked out an 80-74 win back in early June, with the Aces repaying the favor 89-81 on Aug. 11.

Whoever wins this game will own the tiebreaker in the event that both teams finish with identical records. If that tie is for the No. 2 overall seed, the team who wins will earn a two-round playoff bye.

Needless to say, this is a goal both Connecticut and Las Vegas are shooting for. It’s of particular importance to the Sun, who are 13-1 at home this season.

WNBA: AUG 18 Dallas Wings at Connecticut Sun
Jasmine Thomas will be asked to carry a heavy load on Friday as she leads the Sun into battle.
Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Atlanta Dream will attempt to end a 12-game losing skid as they play the Liberty in New York. Over that stretch, Atlanta has been outscored by 12.9 points per 100 possessions. The Dream were recently eliminated from postseason contention, so they’ll just be playing for respectability at this point. New York can still make the playoffs, but it will be a long shot; this is a must-win game for them.

The final game of the night will feature the Washington Mystics and Chicago Sky. Chicago’s last home game was a physical and somewhat dramatic affair that ended in a 15-point loss, so you can bet the Sky will come out hungry against a Mystics team that’s had their number for several years.

Game information

Las Vegas Aces (19-9) vs. Connecticut Sun (19-8)

When: Friday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

How to watch: NBA TV, NESN+

Keys to the matchup: With A’ja Wilson officially back in the fold for Vegas, the Sun will have their hands full with a dominant Aces frontcourt. Connecticut’s backcourt will be stretched thin, as both Rachel Banham and Natisha Hiedeman have been ruled out. The Aces will need to use their depth to their advantage; big games from players like Dearica Hamby and Sugar Rodgers would go a long way in Vegas’ quest to move up to the No. 2 overall seed.

Atlanta Dream (5-22) vs. New York Liberty (9-18)

When: Friday, Aug. 23, at 7:30 p.m. ET

Where: Westchester County Center, White Plains, NY

How to watch: CBS Sports Network

Keys to the matchup: The last time these two teams met, the Liberty held the Dream to an effective field goal percentage of just 32.9 percent — one of the worst shooting performances by any team this season. Of course, that was back in June, and with Atlanta officially eliminated from postseason contention and New York hanging on for dear life, it’s likely that this game will have more to do with draft lottery placement than anything else. Perhaps New York’s porous defense (102.8 defensive rating) will allow Atlanta’s league-worst offense to get going a bit.

Washington Mystics (20-7) vs. Chicago Sky (16-11)

When: Friday, Aug. 23, at 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena, Chicago, IL

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, The U Too, Monumental

Keys to the matchup: The Sky still have yet to beat the Mystics since Elena Delle Donne was traded from Chicago to Washington prior to the 2017 season. With Kristi Toliver (knee contusion) still out, the Sky will have one less perimeter threat to worry about against a team chock full of them. For Chicago, defending the three-point line will be crucial. As for Washington, it’s full speed ahead as the Mystics continue to fight for the league’s No. 1 overall playoff seed.