The two hottest teams in the WNBA face off in a 10 p.m. ET Saturday night showdown!
On one side, we’ve got the Connecticut Sun (23-6), winners of 11-straight games. On the other side, it’s the Phoenix Mercury (19-10), winners of 10-straight games.
Headlining this contest are the current East and West Players of the Week — the Sun’s Jonquel Jones and the Mercury’s Brittney Griner, respectively. While Griner missed the Mercury’s previous game, she is expected to return to the court on Saturday.
We’ve also got a number of other intriguing matchups, highlighted by return visits to the Valley for two Mercury-turned-Sun players in DeWanna Bonner and Briann January. There’s also the Brionna vs. Brianna battle, with Connecticut’s ground-bound but fundamentally-sound Brionna Jones going up against Phoenix’s bouncy and bursty Brianna Turner.
If one of these teams is under more pressure to get the win and bust the other’s streak, it is the Mercury. Of their 10-straight wins, only one has come against a team with a winning record — their home blowout of the Chicago Sky on Aug. 31. Yes, the Mercury deserve credit for cruising through a cupcake schedule, but questions remain about their playoff quality and contender credibility. A win over the Sun would go a long way toward substantiating their resume.
If the Sun and Mercury are the WNBA’s two hottest teams, the Dallas Wings and New York Liberty are ... not.
While they have had ample opportunity to strengthen their playoff bids, the Dallas Wings (12-17), currently the seventh seed, and New York Liberty (11-18), currently tied for eighth place, have together lost 10-straight games. Dallas is 3-7 over their last 10 games; New York is 1-9 over their last 10.
The two squads meet on Saturday evening at 8 p.m. ET, meaning somebody will have to win a game. The team that triumphs will earn a significant advantage when it comes to securing the seventh seed and if the Wings win they clinch the playoffs.
The Liberty won both of the two previous games between the teams. With another win, their record would equal that of the Wings and, because they would own the tiebreaker, the Liberty would have a hold on the seventh seed. Although the Wings cannot win the season series, a victory would give them a valuable two-game lead over the Liberty for the seventh seed.
Dallas Wings (12-17) vs. New York Liberty (11-18)
When: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 8 p.m. ET
Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX
How to watch: Bally Sports Southwest+ or SN1
Key to the matchup: The conditions seem right for a big Natasha Howard game. The Wings again will be without their most reliable post players in Isabelle Harrison and Satou Sabally. Harrison played in both of the previous games, scoring a season-high 23 points in the second matchup on July 5. Sabally only played in the second matchup, scoring 16 points, grabbing seven boards, and swatting three shots. A depleted Dallas front court is now depending on sophomore Bella Alarie and rookies Charli Collier and Awak Kuier for extended minutes. Howard should be able to work her “Flash” magic, using her shiftiness and savvy to school her young opponents. She only played in the first of the prior matchups between these teams, scoring an efficient 17 points.
Wings injury report: Moriah Jefferson (questionable; hamstring), Isabelle Harrison (out indefinitely; health and safety protocols), Satou Sabally (questionable; Achilles)
Liberty injury report: Jocelyn Willoughby (out for season; left Achilles)
Highlight: Flash showed off her full repertoire against her former team
⚡️with the bday performance! 15 pts / 6 reb / 2stl / 1 blk pic.twitter.com/VW0jwzM78n
— New York Liberty (@nyliberty) September 3, 2021
Phoenix Mercury (19-10) vs. Connecticut Sun (23-6)
When: Saturday, Sept. 11 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ
How to watch: NESN+ or SN1
Key to the matchup: While Shey Peddy once again proved that she is an ice-cold killer on Wednesday, sinking a trio of free throws to give the Mercury the comeback win over the Dream, she deserves praise for more than just her moments of clutch-ness. A rookie in 2019 after she was drafted in 2012, Peddy clearly has established herself as one of the WNBA’s 144. She is a reliable rotational piece for very good WNBA team. Encouragingly for a squad reliant on an aging Diana Taurasi, she has successfully scaled up as a starter. Although two starts is a small sample size, she has scored 10.5 points on 46.2 percent shooting from the field, including 37.5 percent from 3, in an average of 31.7 minutes in her pair of starts. With Taurasi out again on Saturday, the Mercury can be confident in the steady and clutch Peddy.
Mercury injury report: Diana Taurasi (out; left ankle), Alanna Smith (out indefinitely; health and safety protocols)
Sun injury report: Alyssa Thomas (doubtful; Achilles)