The 2022 WNBA season tipped off Friday evening with 4 action-packed video games.
Within the first, the Washington Mystics notched a 14-point win over the Indiana Fever. Then, the 2021 defending champions Chicago Sky fell 98-91 in additional time to the Los Angeles Sparks in a sport that ended on a controversial name.
Later within the evening, the Las Vegas Aces cracked triple digits, defeating the Phoenix Mercury — opening their season with out Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia since February — 106-88. And the Seattle Storm christened their new dwelling courtroom at Local weather Pledge Enviornment in model, with a 23-point win in opposition to the Minnesota Lynx.
ESPN’s Mechelle Voepel, Alexa Philippou and Kevin Pelton analyze every of the 4 video games to open the season.
How Chicago misplaced to Los Angeles
It’s obligatory to begin with a caveat right here: Like most WNBA groups proper now, neither squad was at full power. The Sky had been with out Allie Quigley (knee) and 2021 Finals MVP Kahleah Copper (abroad). The Sparks had been with out Kristi Toliver (teaching within the NBA playoffs) and Katie Lou Samuelson (abroad). So it’s too quickly to thoroughly overreact a technique or one other about both crew.
That stated, this was a pleasant win for the Sparks, who wish to bounce again from a disappointing 2021 wherein they missed the postseason for the primary time in a decade. What might have been most stunning or notable in regards to the efficiency was that it wasn’t the likes of prized free company additions Liz Cambage and Chennedy Carter who moved the needle to beat the reigning champs. Cambage received in early foul hassle and didn’t rating from the sector till the second half, ending with 12 factors and 4 rebounds. Carter was restricted to 12 minutes, though she was productive in that point with 12 factors.
Nneka Ogwumike (19 factors, seven rebounds, three steals, two assists) dominated the primary half — nice information for L.A. after she handled a knee harm final season — whereas Jordin Canada, who gained two titles with Seattle earlier than signing with the Sparks this previous offseason, carried the crew throughout the end line with a team-high 21 factors and eight assists. Lexie Brown‘s clutch capturing (4-for-5 on 3s) stored the momentum from fully shifting in Chicago’s favor. Chiney Ogwumike performed 19 minutes and had some good moments, and Brittney Sykes, who stated she labored within the offseason on bringing again her offensive swagger, was additionally a difference-maker at occasions on each ends. Total, that form of depth will serve the Sparks properly, particularly if higher luck with well being is on their aspect this 12 months.
See also Fifteen European nations urge Israel to reverse plans for extra settler properties
It actually didn’t seem like a completed product, and I’m curious to see how Derek Fisher continues to tinker with lineups, particularly as soon as Toliver and Samuelson are again. One other storyline to observe shall be how rapidly Cambage (who completed -3, the second worst mark on the crew) can discover her footing, and the way the Sparks can put her, and the Ogwumikes round her, in the most effective place to succeed.
Chicago did numerous issues that put itself in place to win the sport, and barring a controversial foul name with 1.5 seconds to play, would have come away with the W. Afterwards, gamers and James Wade stated they thought they had been simply gassed in additional time, which contributed to their turnover drawback (25 vs. L.A.’s 22 on the sport). Emma Meesseman stuffed the stat sheet with 12 factors, 5 assists and eight rebounds, however it was apparent she’s nonetheless getting used to her new teammates and system. Her continued consolation will definitely be one thing to observe, together with as Copper and Quigley re-insert themselves into the lineup, too.
And the way about Dana Evans? I didn’t have her scoring a career-high (and team-best) 24 factors on my bingo card, however hey, that’s why you play the sport. — Alexa Philippou
Sue Chicken sends a full-court cross to Jewell Loyd, who finishes the shot plus the foul.
Seattle’s depth got here by in opposition to Minnesota
SEATTLE — On a historic evening the place the Storm returned to the Seattle Heart campus for the primary time since 2018, making their regular-season debut at newly rebuilt Local weather Pledge Enviornment, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup champions delivered a efficiency worthy of their fashionable new dwelling. Seattle outscored the visiting Minnesota Lynx 34-14 within the third quarter, turning a tie sport at halftime right into a 97-74 rout.
Just like the constructing, the Storm’s supporting forged underwent a makeover after the crew was eradicated within the second spherical of the playoffs with out injured star Breanna Stewart final season. Seattle traded for beginning small ahead Gabby Williams and added veterans Briann January and Jantel Lavender to the bench, hoping to scale back the crew’s dependence on its three All-Stars (Stewart, Sue Chicken and Jewell Loyd).
On the eve of the opener, Chicken argued the additions made the Storm the deepest crew within the league. The second unit regarded the half Friday, carrying Seattle by a poor-shooting first half for Stewart (2-of-10). With all three stars on the bench, the Storm rallied to tie the sport within the second quarter.
See also This week’s largest automotive developments: Nexon EV Max to C-Class launch and extra – ET Auto
In contrast, Minnesota’s depth was compromised by the absence of 4 key gamers: Napheesa Collier (pregnant), Damiris Dantas (working again from a Lisfranc harm), Kayla McBride (nonetheless enjoying overseas in Turkey) and Angel McCoughtry (who underwent a PRP injection earlier within the week). The Lynx had simply 9 gamers in uniform, one in all whom, Serbian rookie Nikolina Milic, had by no means practiced with the crew earlier than making her WNBA debut on a hardship contract.
The absences left Minnesota closely depending on the duo of Sylvia Fowles and Aerial Powers, who had been as much as the duty within the first half. Powers had 14 and Fowles 12 to account for 63% of the crew’s scoring. But Seattle was capable of comprise them after halftime, and the sport flipped in a rush. The Lynx had extra turnovers (seven) than subject objectives (5) within the third quarter.
Expertise the 2022 WNBA season like by no means earlier than with the primary full-featured fantasy league sport devoted to knowledgeable girls’s sport. Get a crew or begin a league at present!.
In the meantime, the Storm’s stars had been making their presence felt on the different finish. Loyd and Chicken mixed for 17 of the crew’s 34 factors within the interval and connected on a spotlight when Chicken lobbed the ball from properly past half courtroom to Loyd, who completed the alley-oop with a layup for a three-point play. The help was one in all 9 on the evening for Chicken, who completed one shy of a double-double in 22 minutes to start her nineteenth and certain closing WNBA season.
Friday’s sport was a reminder that so long as Chicken, Loyd and Stewart are wholesome, the Storm shall be robust to beat. If Seattle continues to get the sort of manufacturing that the bench provided within the season opener — three reserves scored at the least 9 factors, with January and Stephanie Talbot combining for six assists and 5 blocks — this crew is able to hanging one other banner within the rafters of the brand new area. — Kevin Pelton
Shakira Austin will get the and-1 reverse layup to fall because the Mystics pad their lead vs. the Fever.
See also Iga Swiatek’s large wins, Taylor Fritz’s rise and takeaways from Indian Wells and Miami OpenRookies confirmed out for Washington and Indiana
As blissful because the Mystics had been to have Elena Delle Donne again for Friday’s season-opening 84-70 victory over Indiana, additionally they wished to see how their draft lottery choose did in her first WNBA sport.
Heart Shakira Austin, whom the Mystics took with the No. 3 choice in April’s draft, didn’t have huge numbers — three factors, three rebounds and one block — however confirmed promise, based on coach Mike Thibault.
“She didn’t end some photographs across the basket; I feel that’s going to return with a while,” Thibault stated after the sport. “She sort of rushed herself somewhat bit at present. However I assumed she actually defensively bothered them. I feel this was an excellent preliminary sport for her.”
Austin started her faculty profession at Maryland however then transferred to Ole Miss, the place she averaged 15.2 factors and 9.0 rebounds this previous season. With Delle Donne not touring to Minnesota for Sunday’s sport on account of load administration, the 6-foot-5 Austin may have a check in opposition to veteran star heart Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota.
“She performed huge minutes on protection,” Delle Donne stated of Austin. “She simply makes the sport simpler for us as a result of she creates extra alternatives when she’s getting second-chance rebounds. When she’s attacking, we’re actually good.
“Defensively, she’s simply so lengthy. So even when she’s in a ball-screen, she smothers guards. And her capability to get again and get better can also be actually spectacular. And simply how a lot you see her desirous to get higher.”
Elena Delle Donne makes a gorgeous inside transfer for the Mystics’ bucket.
Austin wasn’t the one lottery choose on the ground on Friday evening, although: No. 2 NaLyssa Smith and No. 4 Emily Engstler, each forwards, had been additionally in motion for Indiana. Smith, a standout from Baylor, had 13 factors and 13 rebounds to begin her WNBA profession, whereas Engstler had 4 and 9, respectively. Heart Queen Egbo, the No. 10 choose within the draft, had 10 factors and 6 rebounds for the Fever, who’re anticipated to rely lots on their younger gamers — which incorporates Destanni Henderson and Lexie Hull — this season.
Guard Crystal Dangerfield, a third-year participant, who was the rookie of the 12 months for Minnesota in 2020, was minimize by the Lynx this previous week, however wasn’t out of motion for lengthy. The Fever added her to their roster, and she or he had 5 factors and two assists Friday. — Mechelle Voepel