Preview: Sparks look to extend six-game winning streak

Los Angeles Sparks v Atlanta Dream

Candace Parker has been a focal point for the Sparks, leading her team in scoring this season. | Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Sparks have looked to keep pace with the Las Vegas Aces, who won yesterday. The Dallas Wings are trying to climb the standings with a win. The Phoenix Mercury and the Washington Mystics look to end their losing streaks by playing each other.

The Los Angeles Sparks try to extend their six-game winning streak, the longest active streak in the league, as they face the Dallas Wings, who are looking for their first win against a team with a winning record.

The Sparks have been great during their six-straight wins, shooting 50.5 percent from the floor (and a league-leading 48.2 percent from beyond the arc) and winning by an average of 13.2 points. Over the same stretch, the Sparks have held their opponents to 42.7 shooting and 36.3 percent on 3-point shots. Another defensive strength for the Sparks has been their knack for creating turnovers, forcing 20 per game.

Over one third of the shots taken by the Wings are 3-point shots, which means their ability to convert opportunities from deep will play a factor in their ability to beat the Sparks. In their five wins, the Wings have only failed to make 10 3-points shots just once. Over the last three games, the Wings have looked really good on offense, scoring an average of 93 points, whereas in the three games before that, Dallas averaged 70 points.

Atlanta Dream vs. Minnesota Lynx

The Minnesota Lynx have won their last three games, admittedly against the bottom half of the league. Minnesota’s matchup against the Atlanta Dream is the culmination of this four-game stretch of lesser-talented opponents. Despite having lost 10 straight games, the Dream gave the Sparks a tough game, forcing overtime.

The Lynx have gotten in trouble when they have let down on defense. The most points the Lynx have allowed and won was 81, while the fewest points they have allowed and lost is 87. That said, the Lynx have been consistent on defense as they boast the fourth defensive rating in the league, 95.7.

The Dream’s troubles have been on defense, where they have given up over 90 points in six straight games. Offensively, Atlanta has fared better, but is in the bottom half of most statistical categories. Another area where the Lynx have an advantage is scoring on second chance opportunities. The Lynx lead the league in offensive rebounds and the Dream surrender the second most second chance points in the league.

Phoenix Mercury vs. Washington Mystics

The Phoenix Mercury are sitting at 6-7 after having dropped their last three games. The Washington Mystics started the season 3-0 but have won just one game in their last nine games.

The Mercury should be better than they have shown, given their talent and experience, but it has not come to fruition. Overall, the Mercury’s offense has been pretty good but their defense has been extremely shaky. One area to highlight is their defensive discipline, or lack thereof. The Mercury have surrendered 280 free throw attempts, just one shot attempt of the Indiana Fever, who are last in the category.

The Mystics have the same defensive rating as the Mercury (103.4), yet the Mercury have two more wins. The Mystics offense has been a problem; it’s less a function of making shots than it is generating shots. Washington sits third-to-last in field goal attempts and are second-to-last in free throw attempts, which is indicative of not being able to execute offensively.

Game Information

All games will be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL.

Atlanta Dream vs. Minnesota Lynx

When: Sunday, August 23 at 4 p.m. ET

How to watch: Twitter, Fox Sports North Plus, Fox Sports Northeast – Atlanta

Key to the matchup: Can the Dream get stops? The Dream can score with the best of anyone but if the other team scores every time down, it puts even more pressure on the offense to perform. If the Dream can keep the Lynx below 90 points, they might have a chance to end their losing streak.

Dream injury report: Chennedy Carter (questionable, ankle).

Lynx injury report: Sylvia Fowles (out, calf).

Dallas Wings vs. Los Angeles Sparks

When: Sunday, August 23 at 6 p.m. ET

How to watch: Facebook, Spectrum Sportsnet, Fox Sports Southwest Plus, SN

Key to the matchup: Isabelle Harrison and Kayla Thornton scored a combined 36 points in their last game. A similar performance will likely be needed if the Wings are to beat the Sparks. For the Sparks, they have to wonder what Sydney Wiese will provide in terms of scoring. Wiese scored 15 points in her last game but has failed to reach 10 points in 10 of 12 games.

Wings injury report: Satou Sabally (out back); Moriah Jefferson (out, knee).

Sparks injury report: Riquna Williams (out, knee).

Phoenix Mercury vs. Washington Mystics

When: Sunday, August 23 at 8 p.m. ET

How to watch: Facebook, NBC Sports Washington, Fox Sports Arizona

Key to the matchup: Can the Mercury cope without Brittney Griner? Griner missed the Mercury’s last game and is now out indefinitely due to personal reasons. Kia Vaughn scored just three points in her absence last game. If Myisha Hines-Allen can play like she did her last time out, scoring 35 points, the Mystics might be able to end their losing streak.

Mercury injury report: Brittney Griner (out, personal).

Mystics injury report: Emma Meesseman (doubtful, shoulder); Aerial Powers (out for the season; knee).