With the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces holding a 2-0 lead over the No. 4 seed Dallas Wings, the series heads to Dallas, where the Wings will try to keep their season alive. The Wings are the only team to have victories against all remaining playoff teams during the regular season and they’ll be looking to add a postseason win versus the Aces to their 2023 campaign on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN 2.
Dallas’ path to victory
Back at our house for Game 3. pic.twitter.com/YF5FLf5AaV— Dallas Wings (@DallasWings) September 28, 2023
Beating Las Vegas is never easy and Dallas must win on Friday if they want to continue their pursuit of the WNBA title. So, what needs to happen for the Wings to win?
For starters, it starts with the stars. Arike Ogunbowale had a good Game 2, but a mediocre Game 1. Satou Sabally has been well below her regular season averages in points and rebounds in both games. To beat the Aces, both need to be at their best and step up in Game 3. Speaking of the starters, who will be the starting guard for Dallas on Friday? In Game 1, it was Crystal Dangerfield, with Odyssey Sims coming off the bench scoring 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting. In Game 2, roles were reversed and both were underwhelming. Personally, I’d go with Sims due to her offensive upside, but whoever starts will have to step up and be a star in their role.
Defensively, it all starts and ends with containing A’ja Wilson. I say containing because stopping Wilson is an exercise in futility. Dallas will have to throw all their bigs at Wilson to try and wear her down. That means the trio of Natasha Howard, Teaira McCowan and Kalani Brown will have to do their best to front Wilson and try to keep her from going downhill and attacking the paint, which she does at an MVP level. And sometimes your best defense is a good offense. If Dallas puts enough pressure on Wilson, the back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year, and forces her to exert maximum energy on both sides of the floor, then maybe that’ll be enough to wear her down, reduce her effectiveness and, ultimately, get the win at home.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
Las Vegas has been in total control of this series, trailing by just one point for 52 seconds out of a possible 80 minutes. So Vegas will likely keep things the same, rolling out their usual starting five with only Sixth Player of the Year Alysha Clark playing significant minutes off the bench. Rebounding is an area the Aces can look to improve upon; they lost the battle of the boards by one in Game 2. Keeping McCowan off the offensive glass has been a challenge, with her registering the second-most offensive rebounds (104) during the regular season despite only playing in 30 games. If Vegas can keep McCowan off the boards and reduce Dallas’ second-chance opportunities, they can secure the sweep and punch their ticket to the WNBA Finals.
Who is going to step up alongside Wilson? There are a plethora of options, but, ultimately, someone has to do it. In Game 1, it was Kelsey Plum, with her 25 points leading all scorers not named Wilson. In Game 2, it was the Point God, Chelsea Gray, with 23 points and eight assists. Vegas has plenty of weapons, which is why they are defending champs and have been labeled a “super team,” but one of these guards will have to establish their dominance on the road during a closeout game to help Wilson and the Aces avoid losing their first playoff game.
No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces (2-0) vs. No. 4 seed Dallas Wings (0-2)
When: Friday, Sep. 28 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: College Park Center in Arlington, Texas
How to watch: ESPN 2
Wings injury report: Diamond DeShields (out; knee), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee)
Aces injury report: Candace Parker (out; foot), Riquna Williams (out; not with team)