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GameThread: Aces-Mystics will bring fireworks in Friday night four-game slate

What better way to cap off a day of fireworks and overeating than to sit back, nibble on some leftover franks and take in the WNBA’s Friday night four-game slate?

The No. 1 Washington Mystics (9-3) roll into Las Vegas to take on the Aces with the momentum of a 43-point icing of the Connecticut Sun (9-4) on June 29. The outcome of that game was telling for both teams.

The Sun, now without guard Layshia Clarendon who was shut down for the season following ankle surgery, seemed to go through the motions, and barely. They struggled to make in-game adjustments and the halftime break did not result in better execution in the third and fourth quarters. The Mystics, meanwhile, got the better of the Sun — toying with them all game with some of the sharpest execution ever witnessed in basketball. From Eastern Player of the Month Elena Delle Donne to Shey Peddy, who scored two points off free throws in seven minutes, each player executed with precision to slice Connecticut up.

Delle Donne may be an early favorite in the league MVP race, but her teammates have been MVPs of their respective roles and positions.

The No. 3 Las Vegas Aces (8-5), meanwhile, play for their third win in a row. Last time out, the Aces survived 15 lead changes and 13 ties to exit Mandalay Bay Events Center with an eight-point win over the slumping Chicago Sky (6-7), who have lost their last four games. Starters A’ja Wilson, Kayla McBride and Liz Cambage scored 16 points apiece, Kelsey Plum stepped up for 14 points and Dearica Hamby recorded 14 points off the bench.

To get past the Mystics, though, the Aces will have to rise to McBride’s level of efficiency. She shot 100 percent from beyond the arc and 70 percent from the field. She dished two assists and hustled for five rebounds and two steals. Additionally, Liz Cambage will need to try to for double-figure rebounding. The Aces were out-rebounded by the Sky, 34-27. Cambage finished with nine boards, but only one was off the offensive glass. In Dallas, her offensive rebounding was crucial to the Wings’ success and she’ll need to find that muscle on the offensive glass in Vegas to give the team a chance against a Mystics team that is doing everything right.

But the Indiana Fever kick off the evening’s action against the Dallas Wings followed by the New York Liberty at the Phoenix Mercury and the Atlanta Dream at the Seattle Storm.

Here are the keys to all four games and how to watch:


Game zone

No. 11 Indiana Fever (5-9) at No. 10 Dallas Wings

When: Friday, July 5, at 8:00 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center, Arlington, TX | TICKETS

How to watch: CBS Sports Network

Keys to the matchup: Rookie of the Month Arike Ogunbowale and dogged defender Kayla Thornton will be hard for the Fever to contend with. But if they have a shot at the win, it will be due to Erica Wheeler and Kelsey Mitchell pushing a blistering pace and Teaira McCowan cleaning up the glass on both ends of the floor.

No. 9 New York Liberty (5-9) at No. 6 Phoenix Mercury (5-5)

When: Friday, July 5, at 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ | TICKETS

How to watch: CBS Sports Network

Keys to the matchup: The Liberty are on a three-game winning streak behind big play from Kia Nurse and Tina Charles, plus Reshanda Gray and Tanisha Wright stepping up off the bench. The Mercury cannot take this short-staffed team for granted. These is no Amanda Zahui B or Bria Hartley (both are overseas for EuroBasket duties), but the remaining players are more than happy to shine. Diana Taurasi could make her season debut for the Mercury but, with her or without her, Phoenix cannot afford another slow start or to run their offense through just two players. Also, if Taurasi returns and Leilani Mitchell goes back to the bench, it will be important that she maintain the momentum she had while in the starting lineup.

No. 12 Atlanta Dream (2-9) at No. 5 Seattle Storm (8-7)

When: Friday, July 5, at 10:00 p.m. ET

Where: Alaska Airlines Arena, Seattle, WA | TICKETS

How to watch: League Pass, JOETV, WSB NOW

Keys to the matchup: With the Dream still a nightmare, Seattle could get a big win — and this is especially true if the Atlanta players’ mentality is sagging as much as their win-loss column. However, the Storm have been operating on a depleted roster. Most recently, Jewell Loyd went out with an ankle injury and will miss at least two weeks. Western Player of the Month Natasha Howard will need to come up big again. But it wouldn’t be out of the question for fatigue to finally catch up to her and the rest of the team.

No. 1 Washington Mystics (9-3) at No. 3 Las Vegas Aces (8-5)

When: Friday, July 5, at 10:30 p.m. ET

Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV | TICKETS

How to watch: League Pass, MYLV TV, Monumental

Keys to the matchup: In the teams’ first meeting of the season on June 20, the Mystics crushed the Aces, 95-72, courtesy of a monster Delle Donne double-double and three other players scoring in double figures versus Wilson doing it all on offense for the Aces and getting 14 points out of Cambage but single digits from everyone else. A repeat performance by the Aces will give the Mystics a commanding victory.