The No. 5 seed Atlanta Dream (19-21 in the 2023 WNBA routine season) and No. 4 seed Dallas Wings (22-18) are WNBA franchises growing, making their match in the preliminary of the 2023 WNBA playoffs an engaging one. The very first video game of the best-of-three series will tipoff at 9:30 p.m. ET this Friday, Sep. 15, and there will be a lot of juicy stories for fans to follow as they tune in on ESPN2.
How the Wings got here
The Wings are coming off their most effective season in years, winning a minimum of 20 video games for the very first time given that the late 2000s, when the group lay in Detroit. Under first-year head coach Latricia Trammell, the Wings are starting to understand the capacity they’ve mentioned given that preparing explosive scoring guard Arike Ogunbowale in 2019.
Dallas’ winning portion has actually increased in each season ever since. And while Ogunbowale (21.2 points per video game; 5th in the WNBA) stays a component of the franchise, the Wings’ general identity as a group has actually altered from a team of skilled children that might one day be among the league’s finest to an amazing, vibrant group that’s winning now. The development of gamers like Satou Sabally—whose regular-season stat line of 18.6 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.4 helps and 1.8 takes per video game makes her a preferred to win the WNBA’s Most Improved Player Award—and Teaira McCowan (league-leading 3.5 offending rebounds per video game) has actually been vital to the Wings’ success, and the addition of veteran Natasha Howard (16.5 points, 8 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per video game) has actually made Dallas a healthy group efficient in scoring with the WNBA’s finest.
How the Dream got here
In a method, the Dream remain in the exact same position the Wings were a number of seasons earlier. Making their very first playoff look given that 2018, Atlanta is constructing around Rhyne Howard, who has actually appeared predestined for fame given that the Dream prepared her at No. 1 general in in 2015’s draft. Meanwhile, Cheyenne Parker (15 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per video game) and previous Wing Allisha Gray (17.1 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.1 takes per video game) both made All-Star choices for the very first time in 2023.
Keys to the match
The Dream didn’t have much luck versus the Wings in the routine season, however. Dallas won all 3 matches in between the 2 groups, apparently getting more powerful as the season went on; the Wings opened the season with an 85-78 win over Atlanta in May, beat the Dream once again 85-73 in June and closed things out with a 94-77 triumph simply a couple of days earlier.
Clearly, effective offense needs to be a focus for the Dream, who dipped into the fastest speed in the WNBA (82.25 belongings per 40 minutes in the routine season) however ranked tenth in reliable basket portion (47.5 percent). Parker and her colleagues in the frontcourt will likewise require to bring their best shot on the glass; as a group, the Wings led the WNBA in offending rebounding rate (36.9 percent) and 2nd opportunity points (14.8 per video game), thanks mostly to McCowan and backup center Kalani Brown’s size at 6-foot-7 however likewise to the athleticism of forwards Sabally and Howard.
No. 5 seed Atlanta Dream (0-0) vs. No. 4 seed Dallas Wings (0-0)
When: Friday, Sep. 15 at 9:30 p.m. ET
Where: College Park Center in Arlington, TX
How to see: ESPN2
Dream injury report: Nia Coffey (out; hand)
Wings injury report: Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee), Diamond DeShields (out; knee)