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Preview: Las Vegas Aces look to get back on track against shorthanded Atlanta Dream

The Las Vegas Aces have encountered their first rough patch of the 2023 WNBA season—by their standards, anyway. They’ll have a great opportunity to get rolling again on Tuesday against the Atlanta Dream, who will be missing several starters to injury.

Atlanta Dream v Las Vegas Aces
Las Vegas Aces guard No. 12 Chelsea Gray (left) had a rare off night in the team’s recent loss to Los Angeles.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

The defending champion Las Vegas Aces (28-4) visit the Atlanta Dream (16-16) this Tuesday, Aug. 22, leading off a four-game slate for the day. The game is scheduled to tip at 7 p.m. ET and will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.

While the Aces’ 2023 season has been characterized by pure dominance—Las Vegas has been at the top of the league’s standings since its very first game and will likely go down as one of the best teams in WNBA history—they encountered their first true rough spot last week, losing the Commissioner’s Cup title to the New York Liberty and then suffering an unexpected home loss to the Los Angeles Sparks days later.

Granted, the Commissioner’s Cup game didn’t count in the standings, and the Aces subsequently got revenge on the Liberty in a game that did. Even so, for the first time in 2023, the defending champions look mortal—at least by the lofty standards they’ve set for themselves. In particular, the dynamic backcourt duo of Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum had a rare off night against Los Angeles, combining to shoot 8-for-25 from the floor; given how much of the Aces’ success is driven by their guards’ shot creation, this inefficiency factored heavily into their recent loss.

Tuesday’s game against Atlanta represents the ideal opportunity for the Aces to get back on track. The Dream have had a rough go of things in August, winning just two of their seven games in the month to this point, and they’ve suddenly been bitten hard by the injury bug. All-Star perimeter players Allisha Gray (ankle) and Rhyne Howard (knee) may not play against Las Vegas, while the Dream’s most versatile defender, Nia Coffey, has already been ruled out due to a hand injury.

Atlanta Dream v Las Vegas Aces
Rhyne Howard is just one of several Atlanta Dream players whose status is up in the air for Tuesday’s game.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

This is, obviously, less than ideal for the Dream, who had already been struggling to score the basketball efficiently. During the month of August, Atlanta ranks dead last in the WNBA in offensive rating, scoring 90.9 points per 100 possessions, and if neither Gray nor Howard (26.9 field goal attempts per game total) play, the Dream will be scrambling to find some sort of offensive hierarchy.

The odds certainly seem stacked against the Dream, who have already lost to the Aces three times this season, with two of those losses coming by over 20 points. Rookie guard Haley Jones will get a golden opportunity to prove herself to head coach Tanisha Wright, and the third of Atlanta’s 2023 All-Stars, forward Cheyenne Parker, will need to follow up her recent career-high performance (29 points on Sunday against Chicago) if her team is going to pull off the upset.

Elsewhere, the Connecticut Sun (22-10) will continue their march to the playoffs against a Washington Mystics (15-17) team that has played shorthanded for much of August, while the Chicago Sky (12-20), losers of five-straight, enter a must-win matchup against the Seattle Storm (10-22). Finally, the Dallas Wings (18-14) will take on the Minnesota Lynx (15-17) in a game that will be streamed live on X.

Game information

Las Vegas Aces (28-4) vs. Atlanta Dream (16-16)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Gateway Center Arena at College Park in Atlanta, GA

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, Bally Sports Southeast, Fox 5, SSSEN

Aces injury report: Candace Parker (out; foot)

Dream injury report: Rhyne Howard (questionable; knee), Allisha Gray (doubtful; ankle), Nia Coffey (out; hand)

Connecticut Sun (22-10) vs. Washington Mystics (15-17)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, DC

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, NBC Sports Washington, Monumental Sports, NBC Sports Boston

Sun injury report: Bernadett Határ (questionable; illness)

Mystics injury report: Elena Delle Donne (questionable; hip), Shakira Austin (questionable; hip), Kristi Toliver (out; plantar fasciitis)

Seattle Storm (10-22) vs. Chicago Sky (12-20)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Wintrust Arena in Chicago, IL

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, The U, FOX 13+, Amazon Prime Video (Seattle)

Storm injury report: Gabby Williams (out; foot)

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

Dallas Wings (18-14) vs. Minnesota Lynx (15-17)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Target Center in Minneapolis, MN

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, X live stream, Bally Sports North Extra, Bally Sports Southwest Extra

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

Lynx injury report: Lindsay Allen (out; hand), Natalie Achonwa (not with team; maternity leave)