The WNBA opened the 2020 season on Saturday with a triple-header, and follows up with another three games on Sunday. There were three intriguing matchups on Saturday, but all three ended up in routs for the favored team.
Sunday brings three more matchups that are each compelling in their own way. The day at noon ET with the Connecticut Sun facing the Minnesota Lynx on ESPN. That’s followed by a rematch of the first round of last year’s playoffs with the Las Vegas Aces facing the Chicago Sky at 3 p.m. on ABC. The triple-header wraps up with the Atlanta Dream facing the Dallas Wings at 5 p.m. on CBS Sports Network.
We’ll be keeping an eye on things this season, and want to give a big shout-out to Matt Ellentuck and his Here’s Basketball newsletter for providing some critical insight into the W.
Connecticut Sun vs. Minnesota Lynx
Connecticut was runner-up last season, and will be without their best player as Jonquel Jones opted out of the season. The pressure will be on forward DeWanna Bonner, acquired in the offseason in exchange for three first round picks. The Lynx have lost in the first round of the playoffs the last two seasons, and have struggled to take a step forward since Lindsay Whalen started to see a decline in play before retiring. They’ll look for 2019 Rookie of the Year Napheesa Collier and 2017 league MVP Sylvia Fowles to step up.
Result: Lynx 77, Sun 67 — Connecticut jumped on top for much of the first three quarters, but Minnesota turned it on in the fourth quarter. They outscored Connecticut 77-69 en route to the season-opening victory. Sylvia Fowles dominated inside, grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring 17 points. Shenise Johnson scored 13 points starting at point guard, but Crystal Dangerfield got significant run off the bench and finished with 10 points in just under 21 minutes of playing time. She’ll be one to watch moving forward. Alyssa Thomas had 20 points and 8 rebounds for the Sun, while DeWanna Bonner added 19 and 8.
Chicago Sky vs. Las Vegas Aces
Last year, the Sky and Aces met in the first round of the WNBA playoffs. Dearica Hamby shocked the Sky with a steal and a deep three with 6.5 seconds left to win the elimination game. It’s safe to say the Sky will be looking for some early revenge and third year starter Diamond DeShields will look to take a leap to get this team to the next level. Las Vegas will be without Kelsey Plum, who tore her Achilles, and Liz Cambage, who opted out of the season. The pressure will be on potential lead scorer A’ja Wilson and Angel McCoughtry returning from injury to carry this team.
Result: Sky 88, Aces 86 — Chicago came back after trailing most of the game and won courtesy of a tough Allie Quigley three with 15.3 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Kahleah Copper led the Sky with 18 points and Courtney Vandersloot dished out a game-leading 11 assists. Angel McCoughtry led the Aces with 25 points and pulled down eight rebounds in her first game since tearing knee ligaments in 2018. A’ja Wilson scored 22 points and pulled down a game-leading 11 rebounds.
Dallas Wings vs. Atlanta Dream
This is one of the worst matchups on paper to open the season, but these are two teams looking to take a step forward in building to something bigger. Arike Ogunbowale will lead the Wings, but this is a team with serious questions as to what exactly their rotation will look like. The Dream are dealing with multiple Covid-19 cases, with center Kalani Brown and forward Glory Johnson both isolating for the time being. The Dream are also without Courtney Williams, who will join the team at an unspecified point.
Result: Dream 105, Wings 95 — Monique Billings had the best game of the first two days, scoring 30 points and pulling down 13 rebounds for the Dream. Chennedy Carter contributed 18 points and 8 assists, while the rest of the starting lineup all got into double digit scoring as well. Arike Ogunbowale and Allisha Gray led the Wings with 19 points, while Isabelle Harrison added 18. Gray’s performance was particularly impressive, coming in just under 20 minutes of play.