The Los Angeles Sparks (0-2) and Minnesota Lynx (0-3) are the WNBA’s last two winless teams. On Friday night, both squads will have the opportunity to enter the win column.
To do so, LA will have to knock off old friend Candace Parker’s new hometown team, the Chicago Sky (2-2).
Parker, unfortunately, will not be part of the action, as she will miss her fourth-straight game due to an ankle injury. Without her, the Sky have not reliably generated good offense. They especially have missed her extra playmaking. Parker’s absence leaves Courtney Vandersloot as the only Sky who can consistently create opportunities for others. Chicago also needs Parker’s presence on the other end of the floor, as their defense has gotten progressively worse through four games.
Yet, even with the Sky missing Parker and Allie Quigley, who is out again because of hamstring troubles, the Sparks’ two performances suggest they still might struggle to take advantage of a depleted opponent. This new-look LA squad ignominiously owns the league’s worst offense (79.1 rating) and defense (108.5 rating). Second halves, in particular, have been a problem for Los Angeles. Their offense was anemic after halftime against the Dallas Wings and Las Vegas Aces. Head coach Derek Fisher needs to find a fix, and fast.
Compared to LA, Minnesota seems situated to soon find its way to wins, even if it falls short again on Friday night against the high-scoring Seattle Storm (4-1). In their last game, also against the Storm, the Lynx squandered a strong first half, scoring only 30 total second-half points as they allowed the defending champs to tally a 37-point fourth quarter.
The arrival of reinforcements should prevent a similar scenario. After completing her overseas obligations, Napheesa Collier is now with the team, ready to take the court as soon as she clears COVID-19 protocols. Her presence should instantly augment the Lynx on both ends of the floor, with her versatility and intelligence allowing head coach Cheryl Reeve to experiment with different rotations.
The addition of a true backup point guard also should help Minnesota’s rotations. The Lynx have signed Layshia Clarendon. Although they will not be ready to roll on Friday night, Clarendon will fill a glaring roster weakness. Unfortunately, Minnesota will not have their full squad for a few weeks, as Aerial Powers is out indefinitely with a hamstring strain.
In Friday night’s early game, the Connecticut Sun (5-1) will look to bounce back from their first loss of the season when they welcome the Washington Mystics (2-3) to Mohegan Sun Arena. For the night’s final game, the Las Vegas Aces (3-2) will aim to take care of business on their home court against the Indiana Fever (1-5).
Connecticut Sun (5-1) vs. Washington Mystics (2-3)
When: Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT
How to watch: Facebook
Key to matchup: After struggling in her season debut, Myisha Hines-Allen began to find her 2020 form in her second game of the season. In 31 minutes against the Indiana Fever, she notched a double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds. She started at the 4 alongside Tina Charles, giving the Mystics an offensively-imposing frontcourt. As opponents likely will put their best big defender on Charles, Hines-Allen could find herself in favorable mismatches, even against a defense as solid as the Sun’s. If Connecticut sticks Jonquel Jones on Charles, Hines-Allen should be able to use her quickness against Brionna Jones. Although DeWanna Bonner is much stronger than she looks, Hines-Allen still has the advantage, opening up bully ball opportunities.
Sun injury report: Alyssa Thomas (out for season; Achilles)
Mystics injury report: Kiara Leslie (questionable; illness), Elena Delle Donne (out; back)
Highlight: Myisha Hines-Allen bullies the Fever for the bucket
Chicago Sky (2-2) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (0-2)
When: Friday, May 28 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL
How to watch: CBS Sports Network, The U or Spectrum Sportsnet
Key to matchup: The Sparks have gotten little from their top offseason additions. While Amanda Zauhi B. has yet to make her LA debut due to back issues, it has been a rough start to Erica Wheeler’s Sparks career. Not only is Wheeler struggling mightily with her shot, but she also is not creating scoring opportunities for others, as she is averaging more turnovers (2.5) than assists (1.5) per game. That Wheeler is playing only 19.3 minutes per game, the same number as sophomore reserve guard Te’a Cooper, suggests head coach Derek Fisher does not totally trust her to run the show for the LA. Considering Wheeler has joined a new team after sitting out the 2020 season, it is understandable that she is not yet at her best. But, she has to be better if the Sparks want to advance out of the WNBA cellar.
Sky injury report: Candace Parker (out; ankle), Allie Quigley (out; hamstring), Stefanie Dolson (out; temporary suspension)
Sparks injury report: Amanda Zahui B (probable; back), Maria Vadeeva (out; temporary suspension), Jasmine Walker (out for season; knee)
Highlight: Even as she has struggled with her game, Erica Wheeler always bring the energy
Seattle Storm (4-1) vs. Minnesota Lynx (0-3)
When: Friday, May 28 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA
How to watch: CBS Sports Network, JOETV
Key to the matchup: Jewell Loyd has been fantastic to start the season, more than living up to her Gold Mamba moniker. Through five games, she is posting career-best shooting percentages (54.8 effective field goal percentage) and a career-best scoring average (21.2 points per game). She also is stuffing the entire box score better than ever before, averaging career highs in rebounds (5.4), assists (4.8) and steals (2.4). The Lynx got a firsthand look at Loyd’s excellence last week when she dropped 23 points, including draining the 3 that secured the Storm’s 19-point comeback.
Storm injury report: Katie Lou Samuelson (out; temporary suspension); (Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (out for season; personal)
Lynx injury report: Napheesa Collier (probable; quarantine). Layshia Clarendon (out; quarantine), Aerial Powers (out; hamstring); Rennia Davis (out; foot)
Highlights: Watch Jewell Loyd light up the Lynx for 23 points
Las Vegas Aces (3-2) vs. Indiana Fever (1-5)
When: Friday, May 28 at 10:30 p.m. ET
Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, NV
How to watch: Twitter, MYLVTV, fever.wnba.com
Key to the matchup: The Fever imported former Ace Danielle Robinson for a defensive infusion. While she has held up her end of the bargain, with her career-high 2.2 steals per game serving as evidence of her perimeter pestering proficiency, Indiana’s overall defense is still subpar. Expect a talented Aces team to find and exploit their weak points. As demonstrated in their Wednesday win over the Phoenix Mercury, Jackie Young is becoming an expert at taking advantage of the defensive attention directed to Vegas’ bigger names, scoring a career-high 27 points via a masterful midrange performance.
Aces injury report: Kelsey Plum (out; temporary suspension), Angel McCoughtry (out for season; knee)
Fever injury report: Bernadette Hatar (out; ankle), Aaliyah Wilson (out; foot)