The Aces relinquished an 11-point lead Friday night to the Connecticut Sun en route to an 89-85 loss, and no longer control their destiny in regard to a top-two seed — and corresponding double bye — in the WNBA playoffs.
Yet, their season continues. And so does their three-game road trip.
The Aces play the Minnesota Lynx on Sunday and the Indiana Fever on Tuesday before returning to Las Vegas for their final home game Saturday against the Los Angeles Sparks. They can still track down the Sun (20-8) and Washington Mystics (20-8) by coupling some wins with their losses.
If they lose, that is.
Here’s what to watch for Sunday against the Lynx.
1. The center matchup
Liz Cambage and Sylvia Fowles are two of the best players in the WNBA, and focal points for their respective teams. But Cambage has bested Fowles in their two matchups this year, and Las Vegas has a 2-0 record to show for it. Cambage against the Lynx is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Fowles against the Aces is averaging 11 points and 7.0 rebounds.
Las Vegas attacked Fowles in their meeting July 21, and she picked up three fouls in the first 12 minutes and never established a rhythm. Cambage in the last six games has established a rhythm of her own. She is averaging 21.2 points and 10.7 rebounds since returning from her two-game hiatus.
2. Kayla McBride
The All-Star guard before the All-Star break averaged 15.2 points on 47.6 percent shooting. But in 10 games since is averaging 13.2 points on 37.6 percent shooting. The 27-year old is still among the league leaders in 3-point shooting at 46.4 percent, though opposing teams have started selling out to slow her perimeter shooting, forcing pull-up midrange shots or drives into the teeth of the defense.
She’s converting 42.6 percent of her 2-point field goals this season— her lowest mark since 2016 — and 31.7 percent in her last 10 games.
McBride against the Sun shot 3 of 10 from the field, scoring 10 points. She’s averaging 21 points, though, against the Lynx this season.
3. Interior defense
The Aces sport the best defensive rating (92.9 points per 100 possessions) in the WNBA, but still allowed the Sun 40 points in the paint on Friday — nearly 12 more than their average allowance of 28.4 per game. Connecticut’s perimeter players beat their defenders off the dribble and took advantage of late — or in some cases nonexistent — defensive rotations to score with ease in the second half.
Fowles, of course, is a factor on the interior, and Lynx guard Odyssey Sims is an All-Star who scores from the perimeter — or probes the paint for scores around the rim.
The Aces will need to be crisp in their rotations to limit their production.
Who: Aces at Minnesota Lynx
When: 4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis
TV: NBA TV
About the Aces (19-10): Cambage leads the team with 16.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. A’ja Wilson averages 16.1 points and 6.5 rebounds and McBride scores 14.4 per game.
About the Lynx (14-15): Sims averages a team-high 14.1 points per game, and Fowles averages 13.5 points on 58.8 percent shooting to go with a team-high 8.9 rebounds. They Lynx have lost three of their last four games.