August 5, 2022
Daily Briefing — Aug. 5, 2022: Wings keep rolling without Ogunbowale
Brittney Griner receives sentence from Russian court
Happy Friday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 77 of the WNBA season is here, featuring a key game in the playoff race between Atlanta and Los Angeles. The Dream come into the game extremely injured, though the Sparks are missing starting center Chiney Ogwumike as well. A win for the latter would go a long way towards keeping their playoff hopes alive, but a loss would all-but-eliminate them from postseason play. But where everyone’s focus has been is across the world, in Russia, with Brittney Griner.
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Griner finally received her sentence yesterday, with the case’s judge predictably showing little mercy in maintaining Russia’s astronomically high sentencing rate. The length of the term doesn’t really matter — the key is that this allows the Biden administration to begin real inroads in negotiations on a prisoner swap with the Putin administration — but it did come down as nine years. Just today, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow would begin discussing terms of an exchange.
I went on Locked On Sports Today this morning to briefly discuss what this means for Griner. It’s only 10 minutes — give it a listen — and I touch on the timeline of a prisoner swap, what to expect in the negotiations’ progressing, and the possible dangers with other countries in which dozens of other WNBA players spend their offseason.
The Mercury and Sun had a long moment of silence pregame.
But first, read:
- Our Tee Baker covered the news of and reactions to the Griner sentencing
- ESPN’s Kevin Pelton tweeted a wonderful table forecasting the odds of each WNBA team’s overall playoff odds and possible seeding
- Her Hoop Stats’ Richard Cohen continues his “WNBA Dissected” newsletter by looking at the class of players who could retire this year and assesses the league’s home-away sequencing for playoff series
- Our Hayden Cilley showed just how good Sophie Cunningham’s past couple weeks have been
- In his “The UConn Blog” newsletter, Daniel Connolly looked at how the 2022-23 Huskies now rest on Azzi Fudd
The league announced that All-W teams will be positionless this year, breaking from the mold that the WNBA has followed for all of its 25 years and that the NBA has followed for the past 67 years in which teams had to consist of two guards, two forwards and one center. So expect a lot of bigs on the All-W teams now, as we’ve long been agitating for!
The league also included the other end-of-season awards we’re set to see, which remains unchanged from years past. A panel of 56 local and national journalists and broadcasters will vote on almost all the awards — the second-largest voter bloc in W history, behind only the year 2000, per Across The Timeline — while league front office members continue to be the voters on Executive of the Year. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to be voting on the player awards, but I can assure you that I am not a voter on EoY. (Unless a team wants to hire me to its front office; my inbox is open to offers…)
Atlanta: Combo forward Nia Coffey will miss the rest of the season with an undisclosed right knee injury
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Watch List, Friday, Aug. 5
(All times in Eastern)
Los Angeles @ Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network (Local: Bally Sports South)
Washington @ Chicago, 8 p.m., NBA TV (Local: Monumental, Marquee)
Thursday, Aug. 4 recap
Connecticut (22-10) beat Phoenix (13-19), 77-64. The game was tied with about 14 minutes to go, then the Sun scored 18 unanswered points. The teams combined to shoot just 35.0% overall, but Connecticut had 13 more free-throw attempts while out-rebounding the Mercury by 25 (twenty-five!) boards; the teams combined for 17 steals.
Big Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 14 points on 3-for-7 from the field (1-2 3pt.) and 7-for-8 from the line and 10 rebounds (five offensive) for a double-double in just 19 minutes, against two turnovers; backup center Brionna Jones had 13 points on 3-for-6 FG (7-8 FT) and nine rebounds (five offensive) against two turnovers; big Alyssa Thomas notched nine points on 4-for-10 shooting, 13 rebounds and six assists against three turnovers.
Phoenix was led by combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith’s 16 points on 5-for-15 from the field (1-3 3pt.) and 5-for-8 from the line and two blocks against four turnovers; center Brianna Turner had two points on 1-for-2 FG, 12 rebounds (seven offensive), seven assists and three blocks against two turnovers — of course, no one in WNBA history has ever had two or fewer points with that many rebounds, assists and blocks — in fact, no one’s come remotely close, per Her Hoop Stats; combo guard Shey Peddy notched 13 points on 3-for-9 from three (1-5 from two), four rebounds and four assists against three turnovers.
Dallas (15-16) beat Las Vegas (22-10), 82-80. The Aces led after 4.5 minutes, and then the Wings went on a long, steady march toward a 15-point lead in the mid-third quarter; Vegas tied the game with 30 seconds to go. The teams combined for just 17 turnovers and 25 fouls — just the seventh time that’s happened in league history, per ATT.
Center Teaira McCowan led Dallas with a 21-point, 16-rebound double-double on 7-for-18 from the field and 7-for-11 from the line and 10 offensive boards, plus two steals; backup point guard Tyasha Harris had a career-high 15 points on 7-for-8 FG (1-2 3pt.) and six assists; wing Marina Mabrey notched 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting (2-5 3pt.), three rebounds and three assists against two turnovers.
The Aces were led by point guard Chelsea Gray’s 28 points on 11-for-17 from the field and 5-for-8 from three and five assists without a turnover; wing Jackie Young scored 19 points on 7-for-14 shooting (2-6 3pt.) against two turnovers; point guard Kelsey Plum had 15 points on 3-for-10 from three (1-2 from two) — becoming just the second player to reach 100 threes in a single season (Diana Taurasi, 2006 and 2018), per ATT — and seven assists; center A’ja Wilson notched 12 points on 6-for-14 FG (0-2 3pt.), nine rebounds, four assists, three steals and four blocks against two turnovers — the 11th 12/9/4/3/4 game in league history, per HHS.