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WNBA schedule release 2024: 12 must-see games

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Indiana Fever win the 2024 WNBA draft lottery (0:46)

The Indiana Fever, represented by Aliyah Boston, win the WNBA draft lottery for the second consecutive season. (0:46)

The WNBA granted a holiday gift to fans on Monday when it released its 240-game 2024 schedule, building anticipation months ahead of the league's 28th season tipping off in mid-May.

Each team will play 40 contests, 20 at home and 20 away, with the regular season kicking off May 14. The league will hold the fourth-annual Commissioner's Cup championship game on June 25, followed by the 20th WNBA All-Star Game on July 20, which proceeds an Olympic break running from July 21 through Aug. 14. The regular season resumes Aug. 15 and ends Sept. 19.

How exactly each team will look remains to be seen, as several franchise are facing question marks in the offseason. Big-name free agents include: the New York Liberty's Jonquel Jones, Connecticut Sun's DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones (the latter is coming off an Achilles injury), Dallas Wings' Satou Sabally, Washington Mystics' Elena Delle Donne and Natasha Cloud, Phoenix Mercury's Skylar Diggins-Smith, Los Angeles Sparks' Nneka Ogwumike; and the two-time defending champion Las Vegas Aces ' Kiah Stokes, among others.

Additionally, the Aces' Candace Parker might mull retirement depending on how she feels coming off a foot injury that sidelined her for most of 2023.

Breanna Stewart, the 2023 WNBA MVP, is an unrestricted free agent, but the Liberty have said they'll core her, so it seems she'll be back in Brooklyn for her second year, while Brittney Griner has indicated she intends to return to Phoenix.

Although rosters are subject to change, here are, as of now, 12 must-see games of the 2024 WNBA regular season.

New York Liberty at Washington Mystics

Tuesday, May 14 at 7 p.m. ET

This game kicks off the 2024 WNBA campaign, and it's a treat for fans. The Liberty and Mystics met in the first round of the 2023 playoffs, with Washington a much better team than its No. 7 seed indicated. New York swept in two games at Barclays Center, which means the Mystics will likely have some extra juice heading into this particular season opener. The other games on opening night are Indiana at Connecticut, Phoenix at Las Vegas and Minnesota at Seattle.

Indiana Fever at Los Angeles Sparks

Friday, May 24 at 10 p.m. ET

The No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2024 WNBA draft will meet for the first time in their pro careers 10 days into the season in a clash between two teams building for the future. Of course, who those players end up being is up in the air since seniors have the option of going back to college for a fifth year thanks to the "freebie" season granted to collegiate athletes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But a potential pairing in Indiana between 2023 No. 1 overall pick Aliyah Boston and Iowa's Caitlin Clark is tantalizing to both Fever fans and basketball enthusiasts alike.

Seattle Storm at Minnesota Lynx

Sunday, June 9 at 7 p.m. ET

Jewell Loyd, last season's league-wide leading scorer, made waves at the end of the regular season when she opted to sign a contract extension with the Storm instead of testing the waters of free agency. She and the Storm are hoping to improve following last season's 11-29 finish, their first year of a new era following the retirement of Sue Bird and departure of Stewart to New York. In this matchup, a Commissioner's Cup game under the revamped format, Seattle faces another legendary winning franchise led by a young superstar in Napheesa Collier, who came in fourth in MVP voting last year.

New York Liberty at Las Vegas Aces

Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. ET

Following a season-long build-up of intrigue surrounding "superteams" and a potential budding rivalry between Las Vegas and New York, culminating in their Finals showdown, fans will have to wait a month into the season to watch them square off again. This is the first of three meetings between the two squads: They'll play again in Las Vegas on Aug. 17 before New York hosts on Sept. 8. The "superteams" split the regular-season series 2-2 last year and New York won the Commissioner's Cup, but the Aces dominated the Finals 3-1. Stewart, Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot have their sights set on making it back to that stage but ensuring a different outcome in their quest to win the franchise's first championship.

Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics

Thursday, June 27 at 7 p.m. ET

It's wise to circle on your calendar any games between the Sun and Mystics, both of whom competed for the championship in the 2019 WNBA Finals. That said, the Sun could look a lot different in 2024. Bonner, Brionna Jones and Rebecca Allen are all free agents, while Tiffany Hayes recently announced her retirement from the WNBA. Washington, meanwhile, is hoping for some better injury luck than it's had the last few years, but still managed to fight its way into the postseason last summer. Mystics fans are undoubtedly anxiously awaiting to see what happens with Delle Donne and Cloud in free agency.

Washington Mystics at Minnesota Lynx

Saturday, July 6 at 3 p.m.

The Lynx were better than expected in 2023, largely due to the stellar play of Collier in her first full season back from pregnancy, but the next step for Minnesota is not just to make the postseason, but to be a true contender. How Minnesota fares against the league's upper echelon, including teams like the Mystics, could reveal the Lynx's progress. Cheryl Reeve will look to build around their young core of Collier, Diamond Miller, Dorka Juhasz plus veterans Kayla McBride, Tiffany Mitchell and Jessica Shepard.

Chicago Sky at New York Liberty

Thursday, July 11 at 7 p.m. ET

New Chicago Sky head coach Teresa Weatherspoon will return to New York, where she is in the Ring of Honor following her illustrious playing career with the Liberty, for the second time this summer (the first being on May 23). By mid-July, we'll have a clearer sense of what this Sky team under Weatherspoon will look like, and whether they'll have more stability after a roller-coaster season in 2023. Weatherspoon has some great pieces to work with in the likes of Kahleah Copper, Marina Mabrey and Elizabeth Williams.

Phoenix Mercury at Chicago Sky

Thursday, Aug. 15 at 8 p.m. ET

This game features a matchup between the league's two new head coaches, as the Phoenix Mercury hired former NBA assistant Nate Tibbetts to take over the helm earlier this offseason. Phoenix has been a hotbed of tumult in recent years, from the midseason firing of Vanessa Nygaard to Griner's season-long absence to an apparent standoff with Diggins-Smith to injuries and more. The Mercury could use a better year health-wise, plus a big season from their No. 3 pick in the draft, to return to the playoffs.

Los Angeles Sparks at Connecticut Sun (Boston)

Tuesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.

This meeting marks the first-ever WNBA game in Boston, about 110 miles from the Sun's home in Uncasville, and will be held at the Boston Celtics' TD Garden. The Sparks have missed the playoffs for the last three seasons but appear to be headed in the right direction under head coach Curt Miller and general manager Karen Bryant, who nearly led the group to the postseason in 2023 despite dealing with a host of injuries and illnesses. It'll be fascinating to see what the Sparks do in free agency (only Azura Stevens and Dearica Hamby are set to return on protected contracts) and whether they can establish themselves as contenders in Year Two of this new era.

Las Vegas Aces at Dallas Wings

Tuesday, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. ET

These two squads met in the semifinals last season, only for the Aces to sweep in three games, but the Wings were one of the handful of teams to beat the now-two-time defending champions in the regular season. With that valuable playoff experience under its belt, Dallas will look to build upon last year's 22-18 campaign in the second season for head coach Latricia Trammel. Their prospects for being a contender get a boost if Sabally, a restricted free agent coming off the best season of her young career, returns to the franchise.

Dallas Wings at Atlanta Dream

Friday, Sept. 6 at 7:30 p.m.

The Dream clinched their first postseason berth since 2018 this past summer before being swept by the Wings in the first round. Third year-head coach Tanisha Wright will look to guide Atlanta to its first winning record since 2018, and regardless of how things shake out in free agency, she'll have great talent at her disposal to do so in former lottery pick Allisha Gray, 2022 No. 1 draft selection Rhyne Howard and 2023 All-Star Cheyenne Parker.

Connecticut Sun at Las Vegas Aces

Sunday, Sept. 15, 6 p.m. ET

If 2024 goes like 2023, the exact order of the top seeds for the playoffs won't be determined until the season's final days, so this matchup could be one to keep an eye on. It's also a rematch of the 2022 Finals and a duel between two of last year's MVP candidates in Alyssa Thomas and A'ja Wilson, with the latter ultimately earning Finals MVP. Wilson and her Aces teammates overcame various hurdles throughout 2023 to repeat as champions, and have no intention of slowing down as they look to become only the second franchise to ever win three titles in a row, joining the 1997-2000 Houston Comets.