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Preview: Los Angeles Sparks take on Dallas Wings for first time in 2023

The Los Angeles Sparks have been shorthanded for most of the 2023 season, which has recently resulted in multiple blown leads despite the best efforts of All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike. They’ll try to establish some continuity against the Dallas Wings, who have been dealing with injuries of their own but have been able to power through.

Atlanta Dream v Dallas Wings
Natasha Howard (center)
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks (4-4) will take on the Dallas Wings (5-4) on Wednesday in a Commissioner’s Cup matchup. It’s the first of four regular-season meetings between the two teams, with an early afternoon tip-off scheduled for 1 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on NBA TV and locally on Bally Sports Southwest.

Though the Wings took a loss in their last game (a high-scoring contest against the New York Liberty), rising star Satou Sabally earned a little bit of hardware, winning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging 19 points, 12.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals in three games. Sabally, who is averaging 21.2 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 steals per game on the season, has been the Wings’ most consistent player to this point, and should she maintain her current production for the entire 2023 WNBA season, she’ll be a strong candidate not only for the league’s Most Improved Player award, but for an All-WNBA selection as well.

Against the Sparks, Sabally will be matching up against the Western Conference’s previous Player of the Week, Nneka Ogwumike. The 2016 MVP looks rejuvenated playing under head coach Curt Miller in his first year in Los Angeles, posting career-highs across the board (21.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game) while maintaining her usual excellent offensive efficiency (66.6 percent true shooting) as the Sparks’ primary option.

As a team, however, the Sparks have cooled off after an impressive start to the season, recently blowing big leads to Seattle and Minnesota — two teams Los Angeles should, in theory, be comfortably better than. The Sparks have also been hit hard by injuries, with Layshia Clarendon (plantar fascia tear) and Chiney Ogwumike (foot) their latest players to miss time. Though Azurá Stevens and Jasmine Thomas are back in the lineup after missing the start of the season with injuries of their own, neither player is 100 percent back to game speed yet, leaving Los Angeles with a shorthanded rotation.

While the Wings have several injuries of their own — Diamond DeShields and Lou Lopez Sénéchal continue to be out for the foreseeable future with knee injuries and Crystal Dangerfield is recovering from an ankle injury — they’ve gotten key contributions from replacement players in Kalani Brown and Odyssey Sims. It’s one of several things to watch for in Wednesday’s matchup: The Wings’ depth, while not ideal, seems considerably more functional than the Sparks’ at the moment, and while players like N. Ogwumike, Lexie Brown (14.4 points per game; 42.6 percent 3-point shooting) and Jordin Canada (5.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game) are playing outstanding basketball, leaning too heavily on them has not proven to be a recipe for success, particularly later in games. We’ll see if the Sparks can put together a full 40 minutes against a Wings team that has the potential to put up big scoring numbers.

Game information

Los Angeles Sparks (4-4) vs. Dallas Wings (5-4)

When: Wednesday, June 14 at 1 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Bally Sports Southwest

Sparks injury report: Layshia Clarendon (out; foot), Chiney Ogwumike (questionable; foot), Katie Lou Samuelson (out; pregnancy)

Wings injury report: Crystal Dangerfield (out; ankle), Diamond DeShields (out; knee), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee), Teaira McCowan (not with team; Turkish National Team duties)