Here’s the playoff scenario for the Minnesota Lynx as they prepare to face off against the Las Vegas Aces on Sunday: A win for them, plus a Seattle Storm win against the Indiana Fever, and they’re in.
But having lost their last game, the Aces will want to use this contest to get back on track. Wrapping up a season sweep against the Lynx would bode well as the Aces enter a difficult home stretch — though “home” is a bit inaccurate, as they play just one of their last five games in Las Vegas.
There will be some new faces this time around, though. While A’ja Wilson played in the first matchup for the Aces, she missed the second due to injury. And the Lynx’s Seimone Augustus didn’t make her 2019 debut until Aug. 6, so she missed both.
The Aces have the upper hand by virtue of having Wilson back, but they’ll also have to be careful not to start a losing trend in their slew of upcoming road games. Losing at the first-place Sun is one thing, but a loss to the Lynx would set a bad tone for the rest of the season.
In today’s other two late games, the Phoenix Mercury will try to get back to .500 and solidify their case for a playoff spot by salvaging a win against the Chicago Sky, while the Seattle Storm can clinch a postseason berth by defeating the Indiana Fever.
Here’s how to watch Sunday’s last three games:
Chicago Sky (17-11) vs. Phoenix Mercury (13-14)
When: Sunday, Aug. 25, at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, FOX Sports Arizona, The U Too
Keys to the matchup: The Mercury need a win — it’s that simple. But with inconsistency having been the name of the game for them all season long, even home-court advantage might not provide them that extra boost. Notably, they recently allowed the Wings to grab their first road win of the season in the Aug. 10 game that saw a handful of ejections. But the Mercury’s last two home outings were successful, and they played the Aces close their last time out. Phoenix will need to engage that Brittney Griner-DeWanna Bonner tandem, but getting some scoring from other players will be crucial to keeping up with the Sky. Chicago, meanwhile, could get away with playing just as well as they did in their only other meeting with Phoenix this season, an 82-75 win on June 11 where everything worked about as it should.
Las Vegas Aces (19-10) vs. Minnesota Lynx (14-15)
When: Sunday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
How to watch: NBA TV, FOX Sports North, TSN
Keys to the matchup: This game will be a mental battle as much as it will be a battle on the court. The Aces are coming off a loss that ended a four-game winning streak, while the Lynx are coming off a win that ended a three-game losing streak. With the added incentive of a potential playoff berth on the line for the Lynx, defending their home court against a top-three team would be a perfect way to show they’re back on track. So: Do the Aces want to get back to winning more than the Lynx want to avoid going back to losing? And while the Aces still managed to get the job done at home against the Lynx without A’ja Wilson a month ago, how much will her being back in the lineup at Minnesota change things?
Indiana Fever (9-19) vs. Seattle Storm (15-13)
When: Sunday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, JOEtv
Keys to the matchup: The Storm might be going for the three-game season sweep in this one, but the Fever haven’t made it easy — Seattle only won by scores of 84-82 and 65-61. Each team had to stage a mini-second half comeback in the game they hosted, with the Fever coming up short in the former and the Storm succeeding in the latter. For Indiana, this means an upset will come from not just creating separation early, but also maintaining that separation in the second half. But if Seattle can play a relatively consistent game in all four quarters and let Indiana make the mistakes, that’s boded well for them in this series.