It’s getting to be crunch time for fringe WNBA playoff teams. At 8-15, the New York Liberty have been disappointing. Though coach Katie Smith’s squad isn’t out of it quite yet, it’s entering must-win territory for the remainder of the regular season. New York has lost five straight games, and they can’t afford to drop many more if the postseason is the goal.
Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Lynx will be a big one for the Liberty. Minnesota currently sits at 12-12 and holds the seventh overall seed in the WNBA standings. While the Lynx haven’t been sliding as quickly as the Liberty, their position is not one they should be content with. From the Lynx’s perspective, a win against a team that appears to be lottery-bound is imperative. Cheryl Reeve was less than pleased with her team’s defensive effort in its recent blowout loss to Washington, so a razor-sharp focus from the Lynx on Tuesday would not be surprising.
The Las Vegas Aces could use a convincing win, too. They’ll be taking on the Atlanta Dream at home. While they currently hold onto the fourth overall seed, they’ve been relatively unimpressive during August, going 2-3 with a -7.1 net rating. That’s been without A’ja Wilson, of course, who is still rehabbing an injured foot. Wilson appears to be optimistic that she’ll be back soon, but the Aces’ medical staff has yet to give the okay.
Granted, Atlanta has been even worse in August (0-3 with a -13.3 net rating), so this seems like a winnable game for the Aces regardless of Wilson’s status. The Dream are 5-19 on the season and all but officially eliminated from postseason contention.
Minnesota Lynx (12-12) vs. New York Liberty (8-15)
When: Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 7:00 p.m. ET
Where: Westchester County Center, White Plains, NY
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, Fox Sports Go
Keys to the matchup: Tina Charles has been on a roll lately, scoring 20 or more points in each of her past three games. That hasn’t helped New York win games, but it will likely still be a point of emphasis for Reeve and the Lynx. Seimone Augustus is still working her way back into the Minnesota rotation, so keep an eye her minutes.
Atlanta Dream (5-19) vs. Las Vegas Aces (16-9)
When: Tuesday, Aug. 13, at 10:00 p.m. ET
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV
How to watch: WNBA League Pass, Twitter, MyLVTV
Keys to the matchup: Liz Cambage has posted consecutive games of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, so the Dream will have their hands full with the Aces center. Atlanta’s defense has struggled this season, ranking tenth in defensive efficiency, while the Aces rank first in the same metric. Forcing Cambage into tough shots and keeping her off the glass will be a must if Atlanta is to come away with the upset.