By: Anthony Miller
The Dallas Wings are looking to close out the final ten games of the season strong as the playoffs are just a month away.
Dallas’ current situation is better than it has been since they moved from Tulsa. They are currently sitting in second place in the Western Conference with a 16-14 record. Their win total is already tied for the second most by the Wings team in the eight years they have been in Dallas. The Wings are one of four WNBA teams that currently have a winning record.
It has been discussed all season that Dallas’ “Big Three” between Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally, and Natasha Howard have elevated their performance this season. Ogunbowale has proven this season that not only is she one of the best scorers in the WNBA, but she can be versatile as a passer and defender. She’s pacing for career highs in assists, rebounds, free throw percentage, and steals.
Sabally is the story of the season as she finally got healthy and has shown the WNBA to be one of the best overall players in the league. She is averaging 18.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, and four assists per game which would also be career highs for her.
The team’s new addition from the offseason Howard has been a difference maker on defense as well as adding another scoring option on offense. Howard is averaging similar numbers to Sabally with 17 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
There’s been so much to be proud of from the fanbase as the city of Dallas is watching the best Wings team they have ever constructed on the court. Now it’s about how they finish the last ten games of the season to solidify a good position in the playoffs.
How The Dallas Wings Finish Strong
Keep Leaning on the Big Three
Between Ogunbowale, Sabally, and Howard, the three combine for 56.1 points, 20.5 rebounds, 10.6 assists, and 4.6 steals per game this season. Each of those stat lines is at least 52 percent of the production of the team. It’s safe to say when all three are playing, they are a big reason the team wins or loses a game.
The three have been able to gel together as a unit and find multiple ways to score whether it’s from outside or inside the paint. Two of the three made the All-Star game this season, but an argument could be made that all three should have been All-Stars.
What makes all of them great is that they are more than scorers. Ogunbowale has been one of the team’s best passers and is playing tougher defense than in the season’s past. Sabally can do it all from scoring, passing, and playing defense, to grabbing more rebounds than anyone else on the team. Howard is similar in the fact that her strengths are scoring and collecting rebounds.
As long as all three players can stay healthy, there isn’t a reason this Dallas Wings team can’t be among one of the best in the league. As long as they maintain their current success, they will be a high seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a good chance they get out of the first round for the first time since being in Dallas.
Teaira McCowan Continues to Dominate the Paint
Not having center Teaira McCowan in action for ten games this season was something the Wings were missing for a time. Having her back on the court of late has given the Wings new life, especially with another dominant force in the paint cleaning up rebounds and scoring at an efficient rate.
McCowan has averaged 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game in 20 games played this season. She’s currently second on the team in field goal percentage at 57.3 percent.
Something the stats don’t show is how great she has been on defense dishing out blocks and playing tough against other post players. She’s been able to shut down offenses in the paint and the big part of that is how she is grabbing rebounds. Even on offense, she has been able to collect rebounds as she leads Dallas in offensive rebounds averaging 3.4 per game.
The beginning of the season saw questions surrounding whether somebody on the team can step up and help the “Big Three” out. When McCowan returned, it became clear that she would be the fourth player to help them out and made an immediate impact. Dallas will continue to lean on her to step up and own the paint while others can handle the perimeter.
Steal Road Wins
Every team is making a late-season push for the playoffs as outside of the Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty, and the Connecticut Sun, all other playoff spots are open. Dallas will have a mixed bag of competition facing top teams like the Sun and Liberty, but also playing six road games in their last ten games.
It all starts as their next three games are all on the road against teams in the top half of the league with Connecticut, the Washington Mystics, and the Minnesota Lynx. Their other road games are against the Phoenix Mercury, the Indiana Fever, and the Atlanta Dream. Two of those three teams are at the bottom of the league so that could help Dallas pick up easier wins.
This will not be the easiest end to the season for Dallas, but they realistically need to win half of their games to be confident to have a high seed in the playoffs. They are already three wins away from having the most regular season wins in Dallas Wings history. If Dallas can win at least half of their road games, the Wings will be set up for at least the second seed in the Western Conference and an easier path to get past round one.
Featured Image via Twitter (@DallasWings)