May 20: Dallas win 85-78 at College Park in Dallas, TX.
June 20: Dallas win 85-73 at College Park in Dallas, TX.
September 10: Dallas in 94-77 at Gateway center in Atlanta, GA.
Game One: College Park – 9:30 p.m. ET on September 15 (ESPN2)
Game Two: College Park – 9:00 p.m. ET on September 19 (ESPN)
Game Three (if necessary): Gateway Center – TBD on September 22 (ESPN2)
Matchups We Can’t Wait To Watch:
Candace Pedraza: The battle of the guards Rhyne Howard and Arike Ogunbowale. Both have provided a lot of stability to their respective squads, and both showed out when the teams met during the regular season. Over their three bouts against each other, Ogunbowale averaged 26.6 points per game (PPG), 3.3 assists per game (APG), and 3.3 rebounds per game (RPG). Howard finished up with 18.0 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 3.6 APG. Howard has the size advantage over Ogunbowale, so she is able to work on her defender more in the post, but Ogunbowale is a crafty and quick-triggered guard who can get the best of anyone on an island. Watch for both to step up for their respective teams as they look to push the pace and make things hard on transition defense.
Kevin Forch: Cheyenne Parker versus the Dallas bigs. Through their three matchups in the regular season, the Wings had a clear advantage over the Dream in terms of height. The 6’7” duo of Teaira McCowan and Kalani Brown posed a problem for Cheyenne Parker, one of the Dream’s tallest players at 6’4”. Parker struggled with keeping McCowan and Brown off the glass, and through their three matchups in the regular season, the Wings held the rebounding edge of 130-107. Parker’s size also proved to be a problem in the latest matchup between these teams on Sept. 10, with the Wings posting 48 points in the paint as they cruised to a 94-77 victory. Parker has found ways to be effective offensively against Dallas, finding her shot from outside and using her athleticism to her advantage, but until the Dream find a way to clean the glass, they could be dusted off in the first round.
CP: The way the Wings divide their minutes between their bench players considering how much their starters played during the regular season will be huge, but how head coach Latricia Trammell uses her key bench player in Kalani Brown alongside Teaira McCowan and Natasha Howard will be particularly important. Brown, who has taken her opportunity with the Wings on a hardship contract and become a reliable role player for them off the bench, got in solid reps alongside McCowan and Howard throughout the season but was left off the floor in moments when it felt like Dallas could have used the extra “oomph” on both ends of the floor. Her ability to finish and defend at the drop of a hat is huge for the Wings, who struggled on that end of the floor during the second half of the season. Brown can really muck up some of the Dream’s bench minutes, and it would be huge to have her playing off of McCowan and Howard who can both elevate her game on offense by working as decoys.
KF: In the last seven games, Monique Billings has logged 30 or more minutes on the court four times, matching the number of 30 minute games she played in 2022 and 2021 combined. With Nia Coffey sidelined for the season with a hand injury, Billings has stepped into her role as a defender, rebounder, and Swiss army knife of production. She has given the Dream double-digit scoring in seven of their last eight games, shooting 56.6 percent from the field during that span. On the defensive front, she’s collecting rebounds and steals while primarily guarding the other team’s post players that are usually taller than her 6’4” frame. Defensively, Atlanta is going to have its hands full against what the Wings can do from the guard and post positions, Billings’ versatility in supporting her team on both ends of the court could be what the Dream need to move on to the next round.
CP: My bold prediction is that this series will be a high-scoring affair despite both teams being very solid defensively and the score for either team in their three regular season matchups never going past 100.
KF: We are getting a viral moment involving the refs sometime in this series. The Dream and Wings matchup on June 20 of this year resulted in a WNBA record of 10 technical fouls and saw Arike Ogunbowale sign a fan’s basketball as she was leaving the court following her ejection. Most recently, Wing’s coach Latricia Trammell found social media notoriety by sitting in a fan’s seat on the sideline after an official told her to step back from the court. I fully expect the intensity of the playoffs to bring out another zany moment that will blow up online.