To celebrate the opening of the league’s 22nd season, the WNBA scheduled all 12 teams to be in action on Sunday, May 20 for #WNBAAllDay.
So make sure to use Saturday to finish your weekend chores – wash the car, clean the house, go grocery shopping, do the laundry, whatever you have to do in order to have Sunday free – because from 1:00 p.m to 11:00 p.m. ET it’s time to watch some hoops.
Not only does #WNBAAllDay give fans the opportunity to see every team in action as the season gets underway, it also features a must-see marquee matchup: a Finals rematch between the 2017 champion Minnesota Lynx and the 2016 champion Los Angeles Sparks at 5:00 ET on ESPN2.
“WNBA All Day is a chance for fans to see maybe their favorite team play, but then also stay tuned … you might be able to see some other teams that you don’t always get to watch,” said Seattle’s Sue Bird. “So it’s a good way to start the season off and just make sure you stay up for the nightcap.”
To get you ready for the day here’s a quick viewers guide for #WNBAAllDay with a look at each game, when and how to tune-in and what to watch for.
1:00 PM ET
Indiana Fever at Washington Mystics (NBA TV)
Capital One Arena (Washington, DC)
Las Vegas Aces at Connecticut Sun (Twitter)
Mohegan Sun Arena (Uncasville, CT)
#WNBAAllDay begins with a doubleheader, so make sure your television is tuned into NBA TV for the Washington Mystics hosting the Indiana Fever, and have your secondary device (laptop/tablet/phone) locked into Twitter for the Connecticut Sun hosting the Las Vegas Aces. And while you’re on Twitter, make sure you’re using the #WNBAAllDay hashtag to impart your takes on the game with fellow WNBA fans.
“That’s awesome,” Elena Delle Donne said of the Mystics opening up #WNBAAllDay. “That kind of reminds you a little bit of NCAA Tournament time when all day long you’re just watching it. It’s fun that we get to be that first impression because first impressions are everything, so keep everybody locked in and ready to watch.”
Delle Donne and the Mystics are coming off a successful season that saw them reach the playoff semifinals; they will look to build off that momentum in 2018 and it begins with their season-opener against Indiana. The Fever are looking to bounce back from their first non-playoff season in a dozen years. They have a trio of rookies – Kelsey Mitchell, Victoria Vivians and Stephanie Mavunga – that will look to make a strong first impression of their own in their WNBA debuts.
While the Fever and Mystics battle it out on NBA TV, the Las Vegas Aces will play their inaugural WNBA game on Twitter when they visit the Connecticut Sun. The Aces have stacked the deck with young talent, including A’ja Wilson – the No. 1 pick in April’s draft – who will make her pro debut against a formidable opponent in the Sun. Connecticut was the breakout team of 2017 and Jonquel Jones was the breakout star. The 2017 Most Improved Player just announced that she is back in Connecticut and ready for the home opener after spending recent days in the Bahamas attending to family issues.
This game also features the return of Chiney Ogwumike after she missed all of 2017 rehabilitating a torn Achilles. Her return makes the Sun – who made the playoffs last season after a four-year absence – an even more difficult team to compete with every night. For the Aces, not only is this the debut for Wilson, but for head coach Bill Laimbeer as he takes over his third WNBA squad. After finishing at the bottom of the standings in each of their final three seasons in San Antonio, can 2018 be the year that the team begins its ascension? A win on opening day would be a great sign toward the affirmative.
3:00 PM ET
Atlanta Dream at Dallas Wings (Twitter)
College Park Center (Arlington, TX)
The Aces-Sun matchup is just the first of four matchups that will be streamed on Twitter on #WNBAAllDay, so make sure you’ve got your device fully charged and have a backup battery ready to go so you don’t miss a thing. Especially the 3:00 p.m. matchup between the Dream and Wings, which features a pair of returning stars in Atlanta’s Angel McCoughtry and Dallas’ Liz Cambage. Sunday’s meeting will be the season opener for the Dream, but the Wings will already have a game under their belt as they face off with Phoenix to open the season on Friday.
“I’m happy we’ve got two games on [opening weekend],” said Wings All-Star guard Skylar Diggins-Smith. “We’ve got the first game and it’s Brittney Griner and Liz, it’s a matchup people are going to be talking about. We’re playing against Diana [Taurasi] and DeWanna Bonner’s returning, there’s a lot of emotion that’s going to be in that first game.
“But the fact that we get two games in that weekend, it’s great to open up the season like that. That’s something that we were all excited about when we saw that. Obviously, we’re excited about the potential of our team and things like that, but just seeing that we’re going having two games on opening weekend, I know our fans are excited about that and people want to see what our team is going to look like.”
Cambage was the second overall pick in the 2011 WNBA Draft, but after two seasons, she returned to her native Australia to play professionally and for her national team. After a four-year hiatus, she is back in the WNBA and raises the ceiling for a young Wings team that is ready to make some noise. McCoughtry returns to the Dream after sitting out the 2017 season in order to rest after nearly a decade of playing year-round basketball. A refreshed McCoughtry is back in Atlanta and looking to bring postseason ball to the city once more, she’ll get to take the first step on Sunday.
“I’m super excited,” said Dream center and University of Texas alum Imani McGee-Stafford. “Dallas is great young team; it’s a great place to play, I really enjoy the arena and obviously I have a lot of Texas fans driving down, so it’s going to be a fun opener and it’s going to be a great game.”
5:00 PM ET
Los Angeles Sparks at Minnesota Lynx (ESPN2)
Target Center (Minneapolis, MN)
After three games to whet your appetite, it’s time to get the popcorn ready and tune-in to ESPN2 for the marquee matchup of the day.
What else needs to be said about this rivalry? In the past two years, they have finished 1-2 in the regular season and gone on to meet in the WNBA Finals, where they have had two epic five-game series that came down to the final seconds to determine a champion.
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 13, 2018
The Sparks got the best of the Lynx in 2016 thanks to Nneka Ogwumike’s game-winning putback with 3.1 seconds to play, but the Lynx struck back in 2017 as they overcame a 2-1 series deficit to claim their fourth WNBA title in the past seven seasons. In a rather ironic twist, the Lynx will receive their 2017 championship rings prior to Sunday’s game against the team that they defeated in the Finals.
“I just think its interesting that you lose in the Finals and then the next year we’re the ones that have to watch people get their rings,” said Sparks forward Candace Parker. “I don’t think I need any more motivation from watching that than I would have already going into the season.”
Parker is one of four league MVPs that will be featured in this matchup: Parker (2008 and 2013), Maya Moore (2014), Nneka Ogwumike (2016) and Sylvia Fowles (2017). In the 2018 WNBA.com survey of the league’s general managers, they picked the Sparks as the 2018 title favorites and Moore as the MVP favorite heading into the season.
“We’re just looking forward to playing, no matter who it is,” said Sparks guard Essence Carson. “I know from the fan perspective it’s always good to watch L.A. and Minnesota play, but as a player you want to approach every game with the same focus and respect each opponent. We all know that Minnesota is a great team, so we have to come to that game well prepared physically and mentally. So it’s exciting, its an exciting time of the year.”
7:00 PM ET
New York Liberty at Chicago Sky (Twitter)
Wintrust Arena (Chicago, IL)
After catching your breath from another epic clash between the Lynx and Sparks, it is time to get back on Twitter and tune-in for the New York Liberty taking on the Chicago Sky in the Sky’s new home – Wintrust Arena in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood.
“I’m so excited; I think it’s going to be huge for us to get downtown,” said Sky All-Star center Stefanie Dolson. “It’s closer to a lot more families and a lot more people than up in Rosemont, so I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen the arena and it is gorgeous.”
Dolson and the Sky open the new arena against a formidable opponent as they welcome Tina Charles and the New York Liberty on Sunday night. While the Sky open their season on Saturday in Indiana, Sunday’s game will be the season opener for the Liberty and the head-coaching debut of Katie Smith.
The recently announced Hall of Famer takes over for the departed Bill Laimbeer and will look to lead the Liberty into a deep playoff run after early exits in each of the past three seasons despite finishing as the top team in the Eastern Conference.
In addition to Smith, Sunday marks the debut for Liberty rookie Kia Nurse as she will face her former UConn teammate Gabby Williams, who is one of three lottery picks (Diamond DeShields and Alaina Coates) making their pro debut this weekend for the Sky.
9:00 PM ET
Phoenix Mercury at Seattle Storm (Twitter)
KeyArena (Seattle, WA)
How do you cap off a day filled with wall-to-wall hoops? How about a matchup between longtime friends, teammates and competitors Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi as Bird’s Seattle Storm open their season against Taurasi’s Phoenix Mercury to close out #WNBAAllDay.
This game not only features the WNBA’s all-time points leader (Taurasi) taking on the all-time assists leader (Bird), but features five No. 1 overall picks in the WNBA Draft: Bird (2002), Taurasi (2004), Brittney Griner (2013), Jewell Loyd (2015) and Breanna Stewart (2016).
These teams last met in the first round of the 2017 WNBA Playoffs, when the No. 5 seed Mercury ousted the No. 8 seed Storm in a single-elimination game, 79-69, behind 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks from Griner. Stewart, who finished as the runner-up to Griner for the league scoring title in her second season, also had 23 points in the loss.
The Mercury would advance to the semifinal round of the playoffs, but both Phoenix and Seattle enter 2018 with aspirations for a playoff run late into the summer months. The Mercury added a few new pieces in point guard Briann January and forward Sancho Lyttle and welcome back DeWanna Bonner, who missed 2017 after giving birth to twins. The Storm not only added Courtney Paris as a free agent, Natasha Howard via trade and drafted Jordin Canada, they also hired a new head coach in Dan Hughes, who makes his Storm debut to close out #WNBAAllDay.
“You obviously want visibility for the league, so anytime you can have it all day and have people tune in at any time of day, its awesome and its going to help with the growth,” said Loyd. “And, obviously, anytime you play Diana Taurasi or any of the greats it’s always a good game and we always have a good matchup with them every time we play them.”