July 30, 2022
Daily Briefing — July 30, 2022: Off to the (WNBA playoffs) races!
Plus: Lexie Hull’s bizzarro stat line and the Aces’ bench actually played
Happy Saturday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, the daily Watch List and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 72 of the WNBA season is here, and the scramble for final spots and home court advantage in this year’s WNBA playoffs has kicked into full gear. With seven games across two days, this weekend will prove important, especially for teams trying to fight their way into the postseason. To help you keep track of everything in this year’s WNBA playoff race, let’s go over some important battles that will play out this weekend:
- Three teams have already guaranteed themselves a spot in this year’s WNBA playoffs: Chicago, Las Vegas and Connecticut.
- Indiana remains the only team to be eliminated from playoff contention. However, its final stretch of games could help decide final seeds, particularly for the Washington Mystics, who will play the Fever in their final two games.
- Series to watch, rankings as of publication:
- No. 4 (Seattle) vs No. 5 (Washington): The teams will play each other in back-to-back match-ups this weekend. Seattle currently leads the three-game series 1-0, so Washington will have to win both of this weekend’s games to take the series and have a decent shot at nabbing the four seed.
- No. 8 (Dallas) vs No. 9 (Atlanta): Important playoff implications here. Atlanta has won the three-game season series over Dallas, taking the previous two meetings. A win here would give Atlanta an extra edge over Dallas for the eight seed, especially if Minnesota and New York aren’t able to push into that last playoff spot.
- No. 1 (Chicago) vs No. 3 (Connecticut): Chicago has the lead in the series, having won the past two meetings. A win by Connecticut on Sunday would start to shift the momentum in the top three seeds, potentially making it even easier for Las Vegas (who plays Indiana on Sunday) to take the top spot.
But first, read…
- Our Jenn Hatfield asks the million-dollar questions: Are the Mystics ready for the WNBA playoffs, and how might their seeding impact how the postseason plays out for teams across the league?
- From the archive: March 16, 1971 — For The New York Times, Judy Klemesrud pulls back the curtain on girls’ basketball in the state of Iowa, a longtime and well-loved tradition full of as much drama and basketball excellence as one could possibly want.
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Phoenix: Signed combo forward Kaela Davis to a second 7-day contract.
Watch List, Saturday, July 30
(All times in ET, Game of the Day in bold)
Seattle @ Washington, noon, ESPN, TSN5
Dallas @ Atlanta, 7:30 p.m., NBA TV (Local: Bally Sports South, Bally Sports Southwest, NBA TV Canada)
Friday, July 29 recap
Las Vegas (21–8) beat Indiana (5–26), 93–72. The Fever held their ground through the mid-first quarter, but the Aces quickly overwhelmed them, building a 17-point lead by halftime. From there, Las Vegas maintained and expanded that lead, as Indiana struggled to dig itself out of the deficit. In the end, the Aces all but sprinted away with the win. Overall, the Aces shot 16 percentage points better from the field and 9.6 percentage points better from three than the Fever. Las Vegas also grabbed 13 more rebounds, the majority of which came on the offensive glass. Indiana managed five more steals and had five fewer turnovers.
Center A’ja Wilson led the Aces with 22 points on 10-for-15 shooting from the field (1–1 3pt, 1–3 FT), six rebounds (two offensive), three assists and three steals. With her eighth consecutive 20-point performance, Wilson has the longest active streak in the league and is tied for fifth-longest all-time, per Across the Timeline. Point guard Kelsey Plum notched 22 points on 8-for-11 shooting (3–4 3pt, 3–3 FT) and two assists. Wing Jackie Young logged 15 points on 6-for-10 from the field, seven rebounds (three offensive) and five assists. Miraculously, and for just the sixth time this season, every available player on the Las Vegas roster played more than three minutes. Center Kiah Stokes had two points on 1-for-3 shooting, six rebounds (four offensive), three assists and two blocks in 16 minutes off the bench.
For Indiana, center Queen Egbo led with 13 points on 6-for-8 shooting and six rebounds (two offensive). Big Emily Engstler had five points on 1-for-3 shooting from the field (3–3 FT), two rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in 19 minutes off the bench. Off-ball guard Lexie Hull had six points on 0-for-6 shooting from the field (6–6 FT) and four steals in her eight minutes off the bench. Hull is just the second player in WNBA history to log that statline in as many or fewer minutes and the first to do so without scoring a single field goal, per Across the Timeline.
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Chicago (22–7) beat New York (10–18), 89–81. The teams opened the match trading baskets, racking up six lead changes and three ties in the first quarter alone. Heading into the second quarter, the Liberty took a slight advantage, but the Sky quickly took a one-possession lead as the second half began. Through the second half, New York struggled to capitalize on key defensive plays, and Chicago took advantage, as a final 12–3 Sky run grabbed the win for Chicago. Overall, the Sky shot 12 percentage points better from three than the Liberty and had four fewer turnovers. The Liberty secured four more blocks but had four more turnovers.
Point guard Courtney Vandersloot led the Sky and all scorers with 23 points on 6-for-10 shooting (2–3 3pt, 9–12 FT), six rebounds and nine assists. Vandersloot’s performance became the ninth in WNBA history where a player has logged at least 20 points and nine assists with zero turnovers, per Across the Timeline. Wing Kahleah Copper and combo guard Allie Quigley combined for 32 points on 9-for-24 shooting from the field (2–6 3pt, 12–14 FT). Copper also contributed 11 rebounds and three assists against five turnovers. Off-ball guard Rebekah Gardner had 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting (1–1 3pt) and three rebounds off the bench for Chicago.
For the Liberty, combo guard Sabrina Ionescu led with 16 points on 4-for-10 shooting (1–6 3pt, 7–8 FT), four rebounds and six assists on five fouls. Big Natasha Howard contributed a double-double with 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting from the field (1–1 3pt, 2–2 FT) and 10 rebounds (three offensive), along with four assists, three steals and two blocks on seven turnovers. Off the bench, point guard Marine Johannes logged 13 points on 4-for-6 shooting (1–2 3pt, 4–4 FT) and five assists.
Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.