Before the All-Star break the Dallas Wings were riding high. On July 17th Liz Cambage broke the WNBA single game scoring record with 53 points. Two days later the Wings beat the Washington Mystics which would amount to their seventh win in their last eight games. That stretch vaulted them into sole possession of 3rd place in the entire WNBA. A place that looked pretty good when you consider the franchise has only had one winning season in their last eight campaigns.
Cambage had become a bonafide MVP candidate in her first year back in the WNBA since 2013. Skylar Diggins-Smith was having her best season since tearing her ACL in 2015. And despite losing veteran wing Karina Christmas-Kelly early in the season, the Wings were a deep squad with a ton of young talent. They were prepared to take on all challengers in the playoffs.
But then they had to play the second game of a back-to-back in Chicago against the Sky on July 20th. The Sky shot 56.8 percent from the field, hit 12 threes, and dished out 29 assists in route to a 114-99 victory. Just two days later the Wings were back in Arlington and lost to the Connecticut Sun 92-75. After a 15-point loss and a 17-point loss it seemed like the Wings really needed that All-Star break.
The break came and went and the Wings were ready to get the back half of the season going with a rematch of the Chicago Sky (9-17) to start. In a back-and-forth battle the Wings earned their biggest lead of the game (4 points) with 1:08 left on the clock. And several lapses on defense caused the Wings to fall 92-91—their third loss in a row.
That streak had to end and their next game should have been a gimme.
The Indiana Fever (3-23) are the only team that has been officially eliminated from playoff contention. Eight out of the twelve teams in the W make it to the playoffs. Dallas was sliding down the standings and, even on the road without Skylar Diggins-Smith (injury), a game like this is a must win.
Cambage scored 37 points, the Wings out rebounded the Fever by 16, and they grabbed 18 total offensive rebounds. But they only scored five points off the bench and only five Wings players scored at all in a 84-78 loss. In just four games the Wings dropped from 3rd all the way to 8th place with the young Las Vegas Aces only 2.5 games behind them.
But it didn’t end there.
On Sunday the Wings faced the Mystics in their first rematch since Cambage dropped a 53-spot on them and earned a shoutout from Drake on Travis Scott’s song Sicko Mode.
The Wings had to play without Diggins-Smith once again but they had a good recipe for successful basketball. They out-rebounded the Mystics by 15 and held All-Star Captain Elena Della Donne to just 5 points—her lowest point total ever while playing at least 35 minutes.
But the Wings, who lead the league with 25.3 free throw attempts per game, only shot 7 attempts and fell to the Mystics 76-74.
Now the Wings are sitting in 8th place with an equal amount of wins and losses and the Las Vegas Aces breathing down their necks. There are only six games left on the schedule. Five of them are against teams in playoff contention (Storm, Sun (2x), Dream, and Mystics again) and one game against the Las Vegas Aces who are now just 1.5 games back from the Wings.
Diggins-Smith should return in their next game at home against the Sun and the Wings are going to need all the help they can get right now.