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Previews: Chicago Sky still in pursuit of elite status

The Chicago Sky are still lagging behind the other Top 4 teams and are looking to beat an up-and-coming Dallas Wings team for the second game in a row. Plus, the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm battle for first place, though not in a head-to-head matchup. Vegas plays the Los Angeles Sparks and Seattle faces the Atlanta Dream.

Connecticut Sun v Chicago Sky
Courtney Vandersloot (left) and Kahleah Copper (right)
Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/NBAE via Getty Images

The Chicago Sky (10-8) and Dallas Wings (8-9) meet at 8 p.m. ET on Friday in a rematch of a Wednesday game won by the Sky, 91-81. The Sky are trying to break away from the 4 through 11 pack that has been a fixture in the WNBA standings this season. Right now the fourth-place Sky are just 2.5 games ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks and Atlanta Dream, who are tied for 10th. Meanwhile, the Wings are trying to start a new winning streak and hope that it lasts longer than three games this time so that they can truly complete their turnaround and become a Top 4 team ahead of Chicago.

In other action, the Las Vegas Aces (12-4) will look to take care of business against the Sparks (6-9) for the second game in a row and the Seattle Storm (12-4) will look to break a two-game skid, their first losing streak of the season. Seattle is playing another team that is 6-9 in the Dream. If the Storm win and the Aces lose, the Storm will move back into first place.

Game information

Chicago Sky (10-8) vs. Dallas Wings (8-9)

When: Friday, July 2 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX

How to watch: CBS Sports Network or BSSW+ or The U

Key to the matchup: Diamond DeShields vs. Marina Mabrey. DeShields and Mabrey have combined to score just 21 points in their last two games. Whoever breaks out of their slump will give their team an edge. Mabrey has been held to 10 points or less six times in her past eight outings, including two two-point performances and a scoreless effort. She did have a 28-point outing mixed in there. She’s such an important part of the Wings’ psyche. When she was a Top 10 scorer alongside Arike Ogunbowale, confidence was sky-high in Dallas. DeShields is of course an X factor as well. You know what you’re going to get from Courtney Vandersloot and Candace Parker. DeShields can take Chicago to the next level.

Sky injury report: none

Wings injury report: none

NCAA BASKETBALL: JAN 16 Women’s - Notre Dame at Tennessee
Marina Mabrey (with ball) and Diamond DeShields (defending)
Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Las Vegas Aces (12-4) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (6-9)

When: Friday, July 2 at 10 p.m. ET

Where: Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA

How to watch: CBS Sports Network or Spectrum SportsNet or MYLVTV

Key to the matchup: Chelsea Gray vs. Erica Wheeler. Because of injuries, the Sparks don't have the frontcourt to hang with A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage. They lost the points in the paint battle 52-30 against the Aces on Wednesday. So they’ll have to get something from their backcourt, namely Wheeler, who was an All-Star snub. Wheeler is probably one notch below Gray when it comes to illy passing skills — she’s averaging 4.3 assists per game to Gray’s 6.6 — but is averaging 1.4 more points per game. She’s also just as clutch as Gray, but that will only be relevant if she can keep the Sparks close.

Aces injury report: Angel McCoughtry (out for season; knee)

Sparks injury report: Kristi Toliver (out; eye), Jasmine Walker (out; knee), Chiney Ogwumike (out; knee), Nneka Ogwumike (out; knee), Maria Vadeeva (out; overseas)

Los Angeles Sparks v Las Vegas Aces
Erica Wheeler (center) dishes a pass past Chelsea Gray (left) and Riquna Williams (right).
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Atlanta Dream (6-9) vs. Seattle Storm (12-4)

When: Friday, July 2 at 10 p.m. ET

Where: Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett, WA

How to watch: Twitter or JoeTV

Key to the matchup: Sue Bird. She scored just seven points in each of her last two games, so she’s due for a big performance. If she can score on Atlanta’s young, speedy backcourt, it will just open things up for Breanna Stewart and this could be a blow out. But if the Dream can shut down Bird and force a gargantuan effort from Stewart, they might have a chance of keeping it close.

Dream injury report: Tiffany Hayes (out; knee)

Storm injury report: none