Preview: Dallas Wings vs. Chicago Sky

WNBA

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The Dallas Wings (1-0) host the Chicago Sky (0-1) for the second consecutive game to begin the 2024 WNBA regular season this Saturday, May 18. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast nationally on NBA TV.

The Wings earned their first win of the season on Wednesday, outlasting the Sky for an 87-79 victory. Though Dallas got off to a sluggish start, it outscored Chicago 47-36 in the second half and 14-4 in the final three minutes, using advantages in the paint and off the dribble to begin its 2024 campaign on a high note.

Saturday, the two teams will meet again, though the Wings will be missing a significant portion of their frontcourt this time around. The team announced that forward Natasha Howard, who averaged 16.5 points and eight rebounds per game in 2023 and recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds on Wednesday, will miss the next three to six weeks with a broken foot. Howard will join forwards Satou Sabally (shoulder) and Jaelyn Brown (nose) on the sidelines; Dallas signed forward Monique Billings to an emergency hardship contract as a temporary replacement.

Chicago Sky v Dallas Wings

Dallas center Teaira McCowan was dominant in the paint in the Wings’ season-opening win over Chicago.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

Dallas prides itself on controlling the game in the paint and on the boards, so Howard’s absence will certainly be felt, especially against a Sky team that grabbed 16 offensive rebounds of its own on Wednesday. Chicago had no answer for Wings center Teaira McCowan (18 points and 13 rebounds); she’ll once again be a big part of the game plan on Saturday no matter who shares the court with her.

The Sky will need to account for McCowan, which is easier said than done, but they’ll also have to clean up their late-game offense if they’re going to leave Dallas with a win. Though Chicago got double-figure scoring from each of its five starters on Wednesday, not all of those points came efficiently; as a team, the Sky shot 39.2 percent from the field (35.3 percent in the fourth quarter) and made just 19 of their 27 free throw attempts (59.3 percent).

Chicago might also benefit from getting its star rookie, Angel Reese, going on offense. Reese finished her WNBA debut with 12 points and eight rebounds, but shot just 5-for-14 from the field and 2-for-8 at the free throw line. She won’t be matched up with Howard—a former Defensive Player of the Year—on Saturday, though, so perhaps she’ll have an easier time in the rematch.

Can the Mercury slow down Tina Charles and the Dream without Brittney Griner?

Speaking of teams that are navigating big injuries to their frontcourt, the Mercury will be without star center Brittney Griner for the foreseeable future. Griner suffered a toe fracture prior to the start of the regular season, and the Mercury didn’t provide a timetable for her return.

Needless to say, Phoenix will need to make major adjustments to compensate for the loss. Without Griner’s presence in the paint, the Mercury become more of a jump-shooting team; they took 36 3-pointers in their season opener against Las Vegas, and though they ultimately came up short (89-80), first-year head coach Nate Tibbetts will likely encourage his players to continue firing away from long range.

Phoenix Mercury v Las Vegas Aces

Diana Taurasi was 7-for-11 from 3 in Phoenix’s season opener.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Phoenix will host the Atlanta Dream, who are coming off a 92-81 win over Los Angeles, on Saturday. Atlanta’s Rhyne Howard scored a game-high 25 points in her season debut, and she’ll match up against the Mercury’s Kahleah Copper, who is still getting acclimated in Phoenix after being traded from Chicago during the offseason. The Mercury will also need to come up with a solution for Tina Charles; the No. 4 scorer in WNBA history didn’t play last season, but looked strong in her first game with the Dream, and could be in for another big day without Griner standing in her way.


Game information

Chicago Sky (0-1) vs. Dallas Wings (1-0)

When: Saturday, May 18 at 8 p.m. ET

Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Bally Sports SW, Marquee Sports Network

Sky injury report: Kamilla Cardoso (out; shoulder)

Wings injury report: Natasha Howard (out; foot), Satou Sabally (out; shoulder), Jaelyn Brown (out; nose)

Atlanta Dream (1-0) vs. Phoenix Mercury (0-1)

When: Saturday, May 18. at 10 p.m. ET

Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, Arizona’s Family 3TV, Peachtree Sports Network

Dream injury report: None

Mercury injury report: Brittney Griner (out; toe)

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