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Preview: Wings encounter early road test against defending champs

The Dallas Wings (1-1) hope to avoid repeating last season’s mistakes when they begin a three-game road trip against the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday.

The Wings surrendered all three of their contests against the Lynx last year, including a 100-74 loss in Minnesota in mid-July.

Ahead of the first multi-game road trip this season, Dallas’ goals are simple according to Wings guard and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Allisha Gray.

“Hopefully, come back [with three wins],” Gray said. “We just gotta lock in, practice hard and come mentally prepared for all [three] games.”

Head coach Fred Williams anticipates a gritty matchup against the defending champs. Minnesota (0-1) remains in search of its first win after conceding a last-second, game-deciding basket to Chelsea Gray and the Los Angeles Sparks.

“Just be battle-tested,” Williams said of his expectations ahead of a the road trip. “You’re looking at Minnesota, Atlanta, New York — which are all tough places to play at, especially Minnesota — and so it gives our young players an opportunity to get a good feel for that and what they felt in Phoenix. But I think the more we play, the more we get a few practices in, we’ll be prepared.”

Williams expects to replace the All-Star forward Glory Johnson’s minutes with a rotation of forwards including Kaela Davis, Kayla Thornton and rookie Azura Stevens. Johnson sat out the Wings’ 101-78 win against Atlanta although Williams anticipates Johnson’s return within weeks.

“I think you’re looking at a couple of weeks away,” said Williams on Johnson’s timeline for returning to in-game action. “We’ll rotate Thornton, Stevens and Davis in there. [During the win against Atlanta] it was easy for me, the rotation, because I really only had nine players. But on the road I’m going to have to use all of them and give them some quality minutes, especially for [Cambage] she takes a pounding in [the paint].”

Liz Cambage’s defensive presence is proving to be an sizeable asset for the Wings. The 6-foot-8 center has tallied 6 blocks in two games but alters even more shots due to her length. Dallas will rely heavily on Cambage in Johnson’s absence as the Wings center continues growing more acclimated to the team’s up-tempo attack.

Cambage will face arguably her toughest individual matchup to date against Lynx center Sylvia Fowles. Fowles, an Olympian, three-time WNBA All-Star, MVP, Finals MVP, and multi-time Defensive Player of the Year, tallied 15 points, 12 rebounds, 6 turnovers, 3 blocks and a steal in Minnesota’s season-opening loss against Los Angeles.

Though the opposition will be tough, Williams compares Cambage’s defensive prowess to that of NBA Hall of Fame center Dikembe Mutombo.

“You’re going to see a lot of [frequently contested shots] once she gets her quickness and her timing up more,” Williams said of Cambage’s presence. “She’s not arrogant — she’s very calm — she’s a team player. But she really likes to rotate and help her teammates.”


Tip off begins at 7 p.m. CT. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports North and League Pass.

Podcast host and credentialed media member covering Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Wings | Roamed the rapidly growing area of Arlington Texas for the last 25 years. I graduated Texas Tech in 2014 with my Bachelor's degree in Media and Communications and currently obsess over basketball full-time. In my free time, I'm a substitute teacher and also an Uber driver. I've been following the Mavs since Jason, Jimmy and Jamal were young up-and-comers. If you need their last names, please don't ask me.

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