WNBA West Week 5 Preview

The Wings look for a series win over the Storm, while the Mercury need to prove their potential against tough opposition.

By Laura Fay

The weekend is full of promising matchups, with postseason hopefuls working through tough tests while cellar-dwellers look to move up in the rankings. The Mercury will try to keep momentum after a promising win over the Sparks, with the star-studded side still struggling to click. Meanwhile, the Lynx are challenged as they try and turn around their season in Sylvia Fowles’s last run. 

Rematch x2: Storm vs. Wings

Seattle Storm vs. Dallas Wings – Friday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET (CBSSN)

Seattle Storm vs. Dallas Wings – Sunday, June 12 at 2 p.m ET (WNBA League Pass)

A regular-season series win is on the line this weekend, as the Storm and Wings face off on both Friday and Sunday. Dallas won the last matchup, holding Seattle to a meager 51 points, over half of which were from Breanna Stewart. To win, the Storm must share the scoring burden, a goal that looks more attainable with championship players Sue Bird, Ezi Magbegor, and Mercedes Russell back in the lineup. Magbegor especially has been a revelation this season—she leads the league in blocked shots and hit a clutch three to seal a win over Atlanta on Tuesday. You just feel that when this group starts clicking, the rest of the competition needs to watch out. 

Treading Water: Lynx vs. Mystics

Minnesota Lynx vs. Washington Mystics – Friday, June 10 at 8 p.m. ET (WNBA League Pass)

The Lynx’s hopes of a final championship run for Sylvia Fowles may be slim, but they’re holding onto hope. The team was bolstered by a dominant Aerial Powers performance on Sunday against the Liberty but were then comprehensively defeated in their next game against them. With Moriah Jefferson injured and limited bench production, this game seems like the Mystics’ to lose. It is unclear whether former MVP Elena Delle Donne will be available, but Washington’s deep bench should be able to cover the gap.

Minnesota Lynx players look on in frustration during their loss to the New York Liberty. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

New and Old: Mercury vs. Dream

Phoenix Mercury vs. Atlanta Dream – Friday, June 10 at 10 p.m ET (CBSSN)

The Dream has gone from the bottom of the ladder to playoff contenders this season, with #1 pick Rhyne Howard bringing new life to the franchise. It’s a feeling the Mercury, along with 2004 #1 pick Diana Taurasi, know well. To beat their younger opponents, Phoenix will need to rely on Taurasi, who has one of the highest ceilings in the WNBA, to come up big. With Tina Charles questionable and Sophie Cunningham going down injured in their last game, both Taurasi and Skylar Diggins-Smith will need to be hot. More minutes might also be in store for Brianna Turner and Shey Peddy, both of whom performed well under pressure on Sunday. 

Postseason Preview? Aces vs. Sparks

Las Vegas Aces v. Los Angeles Sparks – Saturday, June 11 at 9 p.m ET (Facebook)

The Aces take on the Sparks Saturday night in what looks like a solid test for both teams. The Sparks will be searching for a win in their first game after firing head coach Derek Fisher, while the Aces want to continue their dominance over the Western division. The Sparks need to cut down on turnovers to have any chance at a win—their seven turnovers in the first quarter against Phoenix let the Mercury gain a foothold they never relinquished. The Aces bench may also be tested, with breakout star Jackie Young still questionable with an ankle injury. However, in a team full of All-Star shoo-ins, it seems unlikely that her absence will cost them the win.

Nneka Ogwumike in the huddle during the Sparks’ game Sunday night. (Photo Courtesy of the Los Angeles Sparks)

Finding Form: Mercury vs. Mystics

Phoenix Mercury vs. Washington Mystics – Sunday, June 12 at 6 p.m ET (WNBA League Pass)

Based on record alone, one would think the Mystics have this match-up in the bag. But, as has been proven countless times, count Diana Taurasi out at your own peril. Phoenix has struggled to connect this season, but solid showings against the Sun and Sparks prove they’re still a force to be reckoned with. Star acquisition Tina Charles has been inconsistent and has missed games with injury, but if the former MVP is healthy, the Mercury should try to get her the ball as much as possible. Elena Delle Donne is a similar story for the Sparks—a bonafide star when playing, Delle Donne has been receiving sporadic rest all season to help manage her back injury. Whether or not she plays could be key for the Mercury’s chances of success. 

Youth vs. Experience: Fever vs. Lynx

Minnesota Lynx vs. Indiana Fever – Sunday, June 12 at 7 p.m ET (WNBA League Pass)

The Fever is an interesting story this season—while sitting on a 3–10 record, the team undoubtedly shows much more promise than they did just a year prior. Rookies NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo are exciting additions, with Egbo in particular exceeding expectations as the #10 draft pick. Guard Kelsey Mitchell has also been a consistent scoring threat, with double-digit totals in all but two games this season, putting her in the race for her first All-Star honor. The young team will be a tough test for the Lynx, but if Sylvia Fowles can come out strong, she could pull the rest of the team along with her. 

Player to Watch: Satou Sabally
Sabally has long been one of the league’s most intriguing young players, and when she’s on her A-game, she can make life difficult for any defense—and she’s certainly on her A-game right now. With a dynamic backcourt of Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey occupying her opponents, Sabally can be quietly brilliant. She’s scored double-digits in all but one game this season and has stepped up her rebounding game to record consecutive double-doubles. She had her best game of the season against Seattle last week and looks in a good position to repeat that performance. We certainly wouldn’t bet against her.

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