On Sunday night, the first-place Las Vegas Aces (13-4) will be challenged by an Atlanta Dream team that is trying to turn its season around and get back to the success it had on its early-season four-game winning streak.
The Dream are down but far from out as they sit at 6-10 and just one game out of a playoff spot. In the second half of the season they will likely battle for that playoff spot and may even rise higher because they do have a lot of talent and will have more when Tiffany Hayes returns. They showed a lot of fight in their three-point loss to the 13-4 Seattle Storm on Friday — don’t expect their scrappiness to let up.
Vegas will be tough to beat though. The Aces can finally relax a little bit as they are finally living up to their lofty expectations by rising to first place. If that team can play loose, the sky is the limit.
After the Aces/Dream game, the Los Angeles Sparks, who are in a similar position to that of the Dream at 6-10, will look to take down the Storm. LA is dealing with a ton of injuries and is just trying to pull out some wins before Nneka Ogwumike returns. The Storm just barely avoided a three-game losing streak on Friday so they will be looking to get back in a groove and hope to pass the Aces.
Atlanta Dream (6-10) vs. Las Vegas Aces (13-4)
When: Sunday, July 4 at 6 p.m. ET
Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, NV
How to watch: NBA TV or MYLVTV or TSN5
Key to the matchup: Aces offense. The Aces are coming off an uncharacteristically low scoring night. They scored just 66 points against the Sparks on Friday and still managed to win. Even with that total dragging their season average down, they still lead the WNBA in points per game with 90.2. The Dream were involved in a more high scoring affair on Friday as they fell to the Storm, 91-88. Atlanta is fourth in the league with 83.5 points per game and put up those 88 points against the fourth-best defense. If it can stay hot, the Aces will need a better offensive showing than what they put on display Friday. Jackie Young, Dearica Hamby, Kelsey Plum and Riquna Williams were all held under 10 points and need to make their presences felt.
Dream injury report: Tiffany Hayes (out; knee)
Aces injury report: Angel McCoughtry (out for season; knee)
Seattle Storm (13-4) vs. Los Angeles Sparks (6-10)
When: Sunday, July 4 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles, CA
How to watch: NBA TV or SPECSN Overflow or Antenna TV or SN1
Key to the matchup: Sparks defense. The Sparks have the fifth-best defense in the league and did a great job against the Aces on Friday. Their D has been a quiet bright spot amid their struggles and injuries to great offensive players. They have DPOY-minded Brittney Sykes on the perimeter and Nia Coffey made some phenomenal defensive plays near the basket on Friday. LA is heavily reliant on Erica Wheeler’s offense and clutchness right now. It needs its defense to continue stepping up to help her out, especially against Breanna Stewart, who is due for a big game after being held to nine points. She had 35 in her previous outing. Seattle can only hope that Jewell Loyd can play and provide some offense as well.
Storm injury report: Jewell Loyd (questionable; ankle)
Sparks injury report: Kristi Toliver (out; eye), Chiney Ogwumike (out; knee), Nneka Ogwumike (out; knee), Jasmine Walker (out for season; knee), Maria Vadeeva (out; personal)