May 18. Are your calendars marked? May 18. Yes, yes they are.
That is the day of the tipoff of the WNBA’s 22nd season. That season shall begin with one team returning to its usual home arena, two teams relocating to a different arena in their same media market, and one team changing its city altogether.
The May 18 date may be considered by some a soft launch when the Dallas Wings travel to Phoenix to face the Mercury at Talking Stick Resort Arena, but there is no such thing as a soft launch when you put Liz Cambage, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Brittney Griner, and Diana Taurasi all on the same court.
The following day is when the Chicago Sky will make the short trip from the Windy City to the Bankers Life Fieldhouse to face the Indiana Fever.
May 20 will be the day of the W’s “WNBA All Day” initiative which will feature all 12 teams in action. Among the contest taking place that day – a nationally-televised game on ESPN2 between the defending champion Minnesota Lynx and Los Angeles Sparks at Target Center.
This drew the ire of one Candace Parker.
Those two teams who will be in different arenas this season will, ironically, play each other that day as well. Those two teams, of course are the New York Liberty (who will play the bulk of their games in White Plains) and the Chicago Sky who are moving from the ‘burbs and into the South Loop at Wintrust Arena.
Also, somewhat fittingly, the first game for the newly minted Las Vegas Aces will be on the road against the Connecticut Sun, who are returning last year’s Coach of the Year (Curt Miller) and last season’s Most Improved Player in Jonquel Jones. It is fitting that with the Aces now being under the MGM Resorts umbrella and the Sun being under that of Mohegan Sun, their ownership situations virtually mirror each other now.
In addition to the arrival of Cambage, the 2018 season will also see the return of Angel McCoughtry to the Atlanta Dream, who also made a free agency splash with the signing of Renee Montgomery. She, of course, won two titles in Minnesota. The Dream open the season on the road against the Wings.
The first game for the Liberty in Westchester will be on Friday May, 25 – against the Lynx. Two days later, the Aces will take to the court for the first time at the Mandalay Bay Events Center with their opponent being the Seattle Storm.
July 5 and Aug. 2 will be the other two occasions in which the Lynx and Sparks will get together – in July in Minnesota and in August in Los Angeles. ESPN/ESPN2 is slated to air all three games where the Sparks and Lynx meet up against each other. A total of 13 regular season games will be broadcast on the ESPN networks and the two games where the Liberty will return to Madison Square Garden are weekday games at 11 a.m.
As with every season, it also comes with the added element of the team that lands a perennial Rookie of the Year candidate in the upcoming Draft. If everyone’s mock drafts are accurate and it is A’ja Wilson who is taken by the Aces, that means she will make her debut in Connecticut.
Fans are excited and so are many team’s social media pages. Is it May 18 yet?
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— Connecticut Sun (@ConnecticutSun) February 8, 2018
— Washington Mystics (@WashMystics) February 9, 2018
— Phoenix Mercury (@PhoenixMercury) February 9, 2018
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) February 8, 2018