While the Dallas Wings have enjoyed their most successful season since relocating to North Texas in 2016, the last memory that coaches and players alike want on their minds is getting swept on their home floor. Just ask Wings’ backup center Kalani Brown and veteran guard Odyssey Sims.
“We’re pissed off as we should be because we can play better than we have lately,” said Brown. “Now we’re on our home court with nothing to lose, so we have to leave it all out there.
In Game 2, there were several calls that put the game out of reach for Dallas, so Brown was asked how much she believed this played a factor.
“I’d say like you said with there being a few choice calls that we didn’t get on the other end, but at the end of the day, we’re on the road. A lot of us play overseas where it’s way more physical, so that’s not even an excuse, honestly. We just have to go out there and play just as tough as they do us. I think they were very comfortable on offense and well-rested on defense. We didn’t do a lot to bring them out of their comfort zone.”
“We’re down 0-2 right now, we just have to stay focused,” said Sims. “It can be a five-game series if we turn it around and take it one game at a time. There is no room for error, so we have to figure out a way to play our best basketball, give it our all, and not lose on our home court. It doesn’t feel good to get swept, especially in the semifinals. We’ve worked so hard to get here, and with how we’ve been playing, we know we can give a little more. If we stay with that, we’ll see a difference from the first two games.”
As a reward for winning their first playoff series in eight years, the Wings received a second-round matchup against the defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces. Quite the gift for being good, right?
Dating back to the regular season, the Wings were one of few teams who genuinely matched up well with Coach Hammon’s group, especially in deploying one of the deepest, most skilled best front-court rotations in the league. So far through two games, the team has failed to capitalize on their calling card all season: post depth and paint presence.
While backup center Kalani Brown has shone bright, averaging nine points on 56.3 percent shooting in just 12.9 minutes, Awak Kuier has yet to provide a jolt off the bench in the few minutes she's played. Rookie forward Maddy Siegrist played well in Game 1 despite not playing until the end, finishing with seven points in just four minutes. As a rookie in the playoffs, Siegrist will be the first to tell you she has much to learn. I’ll tell you she won’t be able to if she doesn’t see the court for more than two minutes at a time. Part of the problem is Las Vegas being the dominant, all-world team on both ends of the court.
“Vegas is a great team,” Sims continued. “They won a championship last year for a reason. They’re the number one seed for a reason. Everything that they’ve been doing collectively as a group all season has been tremendous. They capitalize off of every mistake. There is no room for error, so we have to figure out a way to play our best basketball, give it our all, and not lose on our home court. It doesn’t feel good to get swept, especially in the semifinals. We’ve worked so hard to get here, and with how we’ve been playing, we know we can give a little more. If we stay with that, we’ll see a difference from the first two games.”
History is Vegas and Vegas is History
Las Vegas’ middle name this season has been history and the playoffs have had plenty more in store.
Game 1 in this best-of-five series was a sight for sore eyes for many reasons, and they all started and ended at the hands of superstar forward A’ja Wilson. She had 34 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 rejections. She was 15-of-21 from the field (71.4%), tying a league record for field goals in a playoff game.
In addition, the Aces became the first team in WNBA playoffs history to have multiple players convert on five or more attempts from behind the arc as guards Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum shot 5-for-6 and 5-for-10, respectively.
No matter what Dallas threw at the Aces, it wasn’t enough as the Aces shot 53.6% from the field, 43.5% from deep, and 100% from the line (13-13). This was just the seventh time in WNBA playoffs history that a team finished a game with shooting splits of 50-40-100 or better, according to Across the Timeline. For reference, the last two occasions belong to the Aces.
In Game 2, A’ja Wilson powered the Aces with 30 points on 55.6 percent shooting and 11 rebounds. She is now the first player in WNBA playoff history with three consecutive 30-point games, dating back to her 38-point effort on Sep. 17 after sweeping the Chicago Sky in the first round.
Under first-year head coach Latricia Trammell, Dallas has far exceeded any preseason expectations of their 2023 campaign. They’ve utilized their vibrant youth and made it one of their strong suits in the regular season. Still, this is the playoffs and this isn’t forgotten by Trammell.
“We’re playing a complete veteran team. They’ve been here and have done that. We are the youngest team in the playoffs right now. We lost the first game by 14, and the second game by seven. We’re still trying to clean up a few things so that we’re all on the same page. We have to be more disciplined with our game plan, especially on defense. Just continue to bring the energy, pace, and toughness.”
The Wings look to stay alive in the postseason as they take on the Aces on ESPN tonight at 8:30 CT.