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Preview: Wings welcome Brittney Griner back to Dallas

Brittney Griner is playing in her first game back in her home state of Texas.

Dallas Wings v Phoenix Mercury
Brittney Griner battling with Satou Sabally.
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Arike Ogunbowale and the Dallas Wings (3-3) will host Brittney Griner and the Phoenix Mercury (1-3) on Wednesday in a Commissioner’s Cup matchup and the first game of the season between the two teams. The game will be broadcast locally on Bally Sports Southwest Extra and AZ Family Sports Network 44, with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.

While first-year Wings head coach Latricia Trammell was hired with a defensive-minded reputation, Dallas has actually excelled more on the offensive end of the court thus far in 2023. The Wings rank second in the WNBA in offensive rating, scoring 100.8 points per 100 possessions, and are playing at a fast tempo, recording more possessions per 40 minutes than any other team in the league.

As usual, the Wings’ offense has been fueled by guard Arike Ogunbowale, who was recently named the WNBA’s Player of the Month for the Western Conference after averaging 25.3 points and 3.8 assists per game in May. While Ogunbowale has struggled with her shot since then (10-of-37 shooting in June), Satou Sabally (22.2 points and 10.7 rebounds per game) and Natasha Howard (17 points and 8.5 rebounds per game) have done plenty to keep the Wings’ offense thriving.

Wednesday’s game holds special significance, as it will be Griner’s first in Dallas since her release from Russian imprisonment in late 2022. Griner, who is originally from Houston, is expected to be welcomed back with open arms; the Wings prepared a special video tribute for her prior to the game:

Griner has been excellent in her return to the WNBA, currently averaging 22 points (No. 4 in the league), 8.8 rebounds and 3.3 blocks per game while shooting 68.2 percent from the field, which is second among WNBA players averaging 20 or more minutes played. Phoenix will need every bit of that production from Griner as it tries to dig itself out of an early-season deficit in the standings; the Mercury’s depth has suffered from injuries, though guard Shey Peddy recently made her return from an Achilles injury, while Sug Sutton (12.3 points per game on 51.4 percent shooting) has been a nice surprise for a team searching for on-ball shot creation.

Elsewhere in the WNBA, the New York Liberty (4-2) will look to bounce back from a tough home loss this past Sunday when they host the Minnesota Lynx (1-6) at 7 p.m. ET. The matchup is one between two teams at opposite stages in their respective franchise trajectories; while the Liberty are widely expected to compete for a WNBA title this season after loading up on star talent in free agency, the Lynx are rebuilding and focusing more on individual player development.

Game information

Minnesota Lynx (1-6) vs. New York Liberty (4-2)

When: Wednesday, June 7 at 7 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, YES App, Bally Sports North Extra

Lynx injury report: Diamond Miller (out; ankle); Natalie Achonwa (out; maternity leave)

Liberty injury report: none

Phoenix Mercury (1-3) vs. Dallas Wings (3-3)

When: Wednesday, June 7 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, Bally Sports Southwest Extra, AZ Family Sports Network 44

Mercury injury report: Skylar Diggins-Smith (out; personal)

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)