The Aces open their second season in Las Vegas as the betting favorites to win the WNBA championship.
Here are five games to watch that could determine their fate.
1. Aces vs. Los Angeles Sparks — Sunday, Mandalay Bay Events Center
Newly acquired center Liz Cambage originally wanted to play for the Sparks, but relented and agreed to a trade from the Dallas Wings to the Aces. She will make her team debut in the season opener against the club that was her first choice.
The Sparks will be without star Candace Parker, who is nursing a hamstring injury. But they have All-Star sisters Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike, along with guard Chelsea Gray, and will provide the Aces with a formidable test to start the season.
2. Aces at Atlanta Dream — June 6, State Farm Arena
The Dream were the class of the Eastern Conference last year and a legitimate title contender until losing forward Angel McCoughtry to a season-ending knee injury. She’s not back, but the Dream still have plenty of firepower behind Tiffany Hayes, one of the league’s best players.
The Aces finished 6-11 on the road last season. They will need to be better to compete for a championship.
3. Aces vs. Wings — June 22, Mandalay Bay Events Center
This story sells itself.
Cambage will play her first game against her former team five months after demanding the trade that eventually landed her in Las Vegas. Former Aces Moriah Jefferson and Isabelle Harrison return to play their former team — that is, if Jefferson plays this year. She’s still recovering from a torn oblique she sustained while playing overseas.
4. Aces at Wings — Aug. 3, College Park Center
Cambage’s first trip back to Dallas should be … fun.
Again, she left on poor terms. What type of reception will she receive?
5. Aces at Phoenix Mercury — Sept. 8, Talking Stick Resort Arena
The Aces end the season on the road against a championship contender.
Mercury star Diana Taurasi, center Brittney Griner and forward DeWanna Bonner should provide the Aces with an idea of where they stand in a potential playoff run.