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Preview: Mystics look to rebound against Wings in third matchup of season

The Dallas Wings have been on a roll as of late, thanks in large part to their dominance on the glass. As the Washington Mystics enter the third matchup between the two teams with their starting frontcourt out with injuries, keeping things close on the boards will be of the utmost importance.

Washington Mystics v Dallas Wings
The Dallas Wings had an enormous rebounding advantage the last time they faced the Washington Mystics.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The third matchup of the 2023 WNBA season between the Washington Mystics (12-11) and the Dallas Wings (13-10) highlights a three-game slate this Friday, July 28. All of Friday’s games will tip-off at 8 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on ION, as well as streamed live on WNBA League Pass.

The Wings are one of the WNBA’s hotter teams, having won seven of their last 10 games to rise to fourth place in the league standings, while the Mystics have struggled to stay healthy through an up-and-down July schedule. Washington is without its starting frontcourt, with center Shakira Austin (hip) and forward Elena Delle Donne (ankle) both in the midst of lengthy absences. Five-time All-Defense honoree Ariel Atkins (ankle) hasn’t suited up for the Mystics since the All-Star break, either, and it’s had a disastrous effect on Washington’s depth.

The absences of Austin and Delle Donne, in particular, were felt the last time the Mystics played the Wings. An 89-72 Dallas victory, the Wings more than doubled-up the Mystics on the boards, outrebounding them 54-24 while also outscoring them in the paint 42-26.

Needless to say, doing a better job on the boards against the WNBA’s best rebounding team — Dallas leads the WNBA in both offensive rebounding rate (35.8 percent) and defensive rebounding rate (73.6 percent) — should be at the top of the Mystics’ priority list in Friday’s rematch. Washington will need to find a way to corral the Wings’ offense, which ranks second in the WNBA in points scored per 100 possessions over the team’s last ten games; Arike Ogunbowale is one of the league’s most explosive players and is currently averaging better than 20 points per game for the second time in her career. Forwards Satou Sabally and Natasha Howard are chipping in 17.7 points per game apiece.

We’ll see if the combined offense of guards Natasha Cloud (18.4 points and 6.6 assists per game in her last five games) and Brittney Sykes (20.8 points and 3.8 assists per game in her last five games) will be enough to match that of Ogunbowale and the rest of the Wings. A win for Washington would go a long way not only in the standings (in which the Mystics have slipped to sixth place), but also in the playoff picture. Gaining a head-to-head advantage in the season series between the two teams could be crucial in the ever-present possibility that they end up tied when the regular season ends.

Also on Friday, the New York Liberty (18-5) will play their second game in as many nights when they host the Minnesota Lynx (11-13). The game was initially scheduled to be played on June 7, but had to be postponed due to poor air quality in New York at the time. Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm (4-19) travel to Chicago to take on the Sky (9-14), where they’ll try to avenge a loss suffered to Chicago last weekend.

Game information

Minnesota Lynx (11-13) vs. New York Liberty (18-5)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

How to watch: ION, WNBA League Pass

Lynx injury report: Napheesa Collier (out; ankle), Rachel Banham (out; thumb), Natalie Achonwa (not with team; maternity leave)

Liberty injury report: Courtney Vandersloot (out; rest), Stefanie Dolson (out; ankle), Han Xu (not with team; overseas commitment)

Seattle Storm (4-19) vs. Chicago Sky (9-14)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL

How to watch: ION, WNBA League Pass

Sky injury report: Isabelle Harrison (out; knee), Rebekah Gardner (out; foot)

Washington Mystics (12-11) vs. Dallas Wings (13-10)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX

How to watch: ION, WNBA League Pass

Mystics injury report: Elena Delle Donne (out; ankle), Shakira Austin (out; hip), Ariel Atkins (out; ankle), Kristi Toliver (out; foot)

Wings injury report: Diamond DeShields (out; knee), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee)