Given their new location and moniker, being tabbed unlucky is the last thing the Las Vegas Aces want. But at 0-4 so far this WNBA season, the youngest team in the league has been more or less that, forced to play through growing pains while dealing with the toughest schedule to date.
Entering Friday, the Aces have played all but one game on the road, with visits to Connecticut, Washington and Seattle, which are a combined 13-2 on the season. Las Vegas, which has lost two of the games by single digits, is set to continue its difficult stretch through mid-June, playing five of its next seven games away from home.
However, the Aces might have the best chance to end their misfortunes over their next three games.
The Aces host the Washington Mystics on Friday on the heels of Thursday's 25-point loss to the Storm. Despite playing the second half of a back-to-back set, Vegas holds a key card: home-court advantage. Vegas put up a season-high 98 points in its only game on the Strip this season; the Aces are averaging fewer than 70 points per road contest.
The Aces will need another high-scoring performance if they are to keep pace with the Mystics, who are the top-rated unit in the league, per ESPN's WNBA Basketball Power Index (BPI). The predicted difference between the Aces and Mystics in offensive output alone is more than 13 points. However, the BPI expects the Mystics' defense to give up nearly eight points more than the average WNBA team, negating their offensive advantage.
Washington is also a familiar opponent for Vegas, as the Aces nearly beat the Mystics on May 22 without Kelsey Plum and Kayla McBride. The score was tied entering the fourth quarter, but Washington pulled ahead for a narrow 75-70 victory. Since that meeting, Vegas has averaged more than 86 points per game on 48 percent shooting with Plum and McBride back in the mix.
Although they are trending in the right direction, the Aces are still the underdog against Washington. According to the BPI, Las Vegas has a 47.6 percent chance to secure its first victory. However, the Aces are the favorite in their following home game, June 8 against the Atlanta Dream.
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