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Previews: Streaking Lynx face Aces

The Minnesota Lynx have won five-consecutive games and now play the Las Vegas Aces. Plus, the Connecticut Sun face the Atlanta Dream while the New York Liberty face the last-place Indiana Fever. Additionally, the first-place Seattle Storm are on the road against the Phoenix Mercury.

Dallas Wings v Minnesota Lynx
Sylvia Fowles leads the Lynx in hopes of beating the Aces again.
Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Lynx (10-7) are on the road to put their five-game win streak on the line against the Las Vegas Vegas on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The four-game Friday gets started with the Atlanta Dream (6-11) facing the Connecticut Sun (12-6). Plus, the last-place Indiana Fever (2-16) play the New York Liberty (10-9), while the first-place Seattle Storm (15-4) travel to play the Phoenix Mercury (8-9).

The Lynx beat the Aces in 90-89 in overtime in a meeting earlier in the season. That game was defined by the post players and tonight’s matchup can be expected to be more of the same. Sylvia Fowles and Napheesa Collier combined for 53 points while A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage combined for 46 points. Fowles and Wilson are playing at MVP levels this season and their performances will be critical to their respective teams’ success.

Two-point shooting will be critical. 80.3 percent of the shots the Aces take are inside the 3-point line and in the first meeting the Aces shot 37 percent on two-point shots while the Lynx shot 53 percent. The Lynx are not as reliant on two-point shots, with 69.1 percent of their shots occurring inside the arc.

Sun take on Dream

The Sun dropped their last game against the Fever but had won four-straight games prior to that loss. The Dream have just two wins in their last 10 games. The Sun have the best record at home (7-1), which will make a tough game even harder for the Dream.

Jonquel Jones leads the Sun with 21.1 points and 10.2 rebounds. In the first meeting, she had 26 points while DeWanna Bonner had 21. Bonner is scoring 15.8 points per game with Brionna Jones contributing 15.4.

After a down year in 2020, the Sun’s 3-point shooting is back to 2019 levels with 7.2 made threes per game on 35 percent shooting. However, Connecticut is averaging just 79.6 points per contest while Atlanta is scoring 84.2 points.

Defensively there is a big divide between the two squads. The Sun boast the best scoring defense in the league, allowing just 74.3 points per game while the Dream are allowing the most points of any team at 89.1.

Inconsistent Liberty face last-place Fever

The Liberty are much improved from last year, especially in their long-range shooting. In 2020, New York was 27.7 on 3-point shots. This year, that number has jumped to 36.6 percent. The Fever are on pace to win just one or two more games this season, a clear regression for a team that won 13 games in 2019.

Betnijah Laney has stayed on a roll after her 2020 breakout season. Laney is the top scorer for the Liberty at 19.3 points per contest. Sami Whitcomb is thriving as a full-time starter after four seasons as a role player with the Seattle Storm. Whitcomb is shooting 50.6 percent from the floor and 45.7 percent from beyond the arc while averaging 12.6 points per game.

Kelsey Mitchell leads the Fever with 16.2 points per game but the Fever generate just 74.2 as a team, which is second-to-last in the league. Defensively the Fever are giving up 86.7 points, which is also the second-worst mark in the WNBA. The Liberty are not much better in the defensive department as they are surrendering 85.8 points per contest.

League-leading Storm face Mercury

The Storm and Mercury face each other for the first time this season. The Storm have won their last three games and have not hit a speed bump this season despite major offseason losses. Breanna Stewart is posting similar stats to her MVP season in 2018, with 21.3 points and 9.6 rebounds per game.

Jewell Loyd is averaging a career-high 18.1 points while Sue Bird is scoring 10.8 points, despite playing in her 18th season. Britney Griner is coming off a 33-point, 10-rebound performance and is averaging 20.2 points and 9.5 rebounds. Skylar Diggings-Smith is scoring 18.8 points while future Hall-of-Famer Diana Taurasi is averaging 15.7.

The Storm lead the league in shooting from beyond the arc at 40 percent while the Mercury are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams at 31 percent. Phoenix has had trouble on offense, shooting below 45 percent on shots outside of eight feet away from the basket. The Storm are quite good on defense as they boast the fourth-best defensive rating at 96.6.

Game information

Connecticut Sun (12-6) vs. Atlanta Dream (6-11)

When: Friday, July 9 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, NESN+

Key to the matchup: If the Dream are going turn things around this season, it has start on the defensive end. Atlanta has proven its ability to put points on the board but the losses are racking up. The Dream will be without Chennedy Carter who is suspended for conduct detrimental to the team. This could have quite a big impact on the Dream’s offense. Jonquel Jones and DeWanna Bonner are the keys to success for the Sun.

Sun injury report: Alyssa Thomas (out for the season; Achilles)

Dream injury report: Chennedy Carter (out; suspended), Tiffany Hayes (out; knee)

Indiana Fever (2-16) vs. New York Liberty (10-9)

When: Friday, July 9 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Indiana Farmers Coliseum, Indianapolis, IN

How to watch: NBA TV, Bally Sports Indiana, TSN5

Key to the matchup: The Fever’s focus should be on the 3-point shooting of the Liberty, which is easier said than done. If the Fever can force difficult shots, it could lead to easy transition buckets which would help their limited half-court offense.

Fever injury report: Tiffany Mitchell (probable; thumb), Bernadette Határ (out; ankle)

Liberty injury report: Natasha Howard (out; knee), Jocelyn Willoughby (out for season; Achilles)

Phoenix Mercury (10-9) vs. Seattle Storm (15-4)

When: Friday, July 9 at 9 p.m. ET

Where: Phoenix Suns Arena, Phoenix, AZ

How to watch: ESPN, TSN3/5

Key to the matchup: Britney Griner is the key for the Mercury. The Storm should be able to limit the rest of the Mercury but Griner could prove to be difficult to shut down. If Griner can get going, the Storm could be in for a long night.

Mercury injury report: Bria Hartley (out; knee), Diana Taurasi (questionable; hip)

Storm injury report: Ezi Magbegor (NWT; national team commitment), Stephanie Talbot (NWT; national team commitment), Mikiah Herbert Harrigan (out for season; personal)

Las Vegas Aces (14-5) vs. Minnesota Lynx (10-7)

When: Friday, July 9 at 10:30 p.m. ET

Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena, Las Vegas, NV

How to watch: ESPN3, MYLVTV

Key to the matchup: The battle of the post players could very well decide the outcome of the game. However, a third big scorer could swing the outcome. Layshia Clarendon, for example, put up 20 points in the first meeting between the teams. If Dearica Hamby has a big game alongside WIlson and Cambage, the Aces could exact revenge for the earlier loss.

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

Lynx injury report: Natalie Achonwa (out; knee), Rennia Davis (out for season; foot), Aerial Powers (out; thumb)