After defeating the then-league leading Sun on June 23, the Chicago Sky has dropped four straight games. Sitting at 6-6, is Chicago a contender or a pretender? Their performance tonight in Vegas may offer an answer. Closing out a tough three-game western road trip with a win over the Las Vegas Aces would demonstrate an impressive ability to overcome the adversity that accumulating losses often begets. A loss, in contrast, could spur an irrevocable slide in the standings.
Of course, the Aces will have more than a say over what unfolds this afternoon. Even though its seems like the squad still has not coalesced, Vegas sits a comfortable third in the standings at 7-5. The ability of A’ja Wilson to drop 39 points partly explains why. Or, maybe it will be Liz Cambage’s day to do the most damage? How about Kayla McBride? For all of Bill Laimbeer’s frustrations, the Aces possess the firepower that can fracture Chicago’s creaky defense.
The Atlanta Dream, meanwhile, will hope to find a win in the Land of Lakes against the Minnesota Lynx. At 2-8, Atlanta has remained unable to recapture the defensive prowess they demonstrated last season, while atrocious shooting has prevented them from compensating on the offensive end of the floor. Minnesota, at 6-6, has been average but inconsistent. The matchup with the Dream presents an opportunity for Cheryl Reeve to continue to tinker with lineups, seeking the mix that will allow the Lynx to secure, or even enhance, their place in the standings.
Chicago Sky (6-6) vs. Las Vegas Aces (7-5)
When: Tuesday, July 2, 3 p.m. ET
Where: Mandalay Bay Events Center, Las Vegas, NV
How to watch: Twitter, MYLVTV (Las Vegas)
Keys to the matchup: As the Aces welcome a Sky squad likely tired from an extended road trip, dialing up the defensive intensity could situate them for a relatively easy win. The Aces lead the league in defensive rating due to the suffocating 82.8 mark that they have tallied in their seven wins. And it is Liz Cambage who sets this tone, registering an even more stingy defensive rating of 73.4 in Vegas’ wins.
Atlanta Dream (2-8) vs. Minnesota Lynx (6-6)
When: Tuesday, July 2, 8 p.m. ET
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
How to watch: CBS Sports Network, Fox Sports Go (Minnesota)
Keys to the matchup: While the Lynx are not an offensive juggernaut, the team could put up points if the Dream fails to fortify its defensive weaknesses. Atlanta gives up the most second-chance points in the league, a fault on which Sylvia Fowles should feast. Syl scores 3.4 second-chance points per game, good for fourth in the league. She also puts in 11.3 points in the paint per game. The Dream also allow 10.4 fast break points per game, second-worst in the league. Minnesota’s guards should take advantage, as Danielle Robinson and Odyssey Sims know how to navigate on the break.