The Dallas Wings punched their ticket into the WNBA playoffs on the back of Liz Cambage who had 43 points and 13 rebounds in a 107-102 win over the Las Vegas Aces on Friday night. Going into the game the Wings were nursing a nine game losing streak, having not won a game in over a month. The streak brought the Wings from an 14-9 record and 3rd in the WNBA all the way down to an inauspicious 14-18 and on the brink of elimination.
The context came down to a wire with both teams desperate to sneak their way into the WNBA playoffs. Kayla Thornton hit a three with 7:45 left to tie the score at 88 points a piece. Then the Wings took a gut check and decided that this is where they would lay it all on the line.
Azura Stevens got a block, Diggins stole the ball, players were diving on the floor and Cambage came up big for the Wings. Especially on this play when Cambage put the Wings up five with just under two minutes left to play.
(I highly recommend turning the sound on to hear that College Park Center crowd)
After a good entry pass from Stevens, Cambage catches the pass with one hand, seals off her defender (Carolyn Swords) with the other, and controls the ball all the way to the hoop. Though there were a few more plays until the final buzzer, the Wings secured the win with that play.
Afterward, no one was more emotional than Cambage.
Liz Cambage finishes the game with such emotion. This win was massive for her and this team. pic.twitter.com/RAV28QkSn2— Nick Angstadt (@NickVanExit) August 18, 2018
This game followed a tough month of losing not only games but their coach Fred Williams, who lost his job earlier this week. For Cambage, it’s been an even longer journey full of tough decisions, self discovery, and now (finally) a peek at the mountain top.
The WNBA playoffs are almost set. If everything remains the same the Wings would face Candace Parker and the Los Angeles Sparks for a single elimination game in the first round. The Wings have beaten the Sparks two out of three meetings this season.
If they win that game then they would face Breanna Stewart and the Seattle Storm in a best of 5 semi-finals series. The Wings are 1-2 against the Storm—who have clinched the best record in the league and homecourt advantage in the playoffs already—and play them on Sunday for their final regular season game.
Three wins against the Storm would vault the Wings into the WNBA Finals for the first time since 2008 when the club was called the Detroit Shock and were coached by Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer.
That’s a tough road and the Wings haven’t won a playoff game since 2009. But the just getting into the playoffs is an achievement after the month this franchise has gone through. Now we get to see if they can build on that going forward.