Dallas Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale has been upgraded to probable for Game 3 of their first-round series against the Connecticut Sun, the team announced on Tuesday. With the series all tied at 1-1, Wednesday night’s winner-take-all Game 3 will determine who advances to the semifinals.
Ogunbowale has been out since Aug. 6 when she suffered an abdominal injury in their win over the Indiana Fever. Late in the fourth quarter of that game, Ogunbowale was chasing a rebound when she collided with Lexie Hull and collapsed in severe pain. She eventually had to be helped back to the locker room.
A few days later, Ogunbowale underwent an iliac crest core muscle avulsion repair. At the time, the Wings announced that she would be out for the remainder of the regular season and the first round of the playoffs. They did not give an exact timeframe in terms of days or weeks, however, and it’s clear that Ogunbowale’s recovery has progressed quicker than they expected.
Ogunbowale returned to the court for shooting drills and individual work earlier in the playoffs and was a full participant in practice on Tuesday according to Peter Warren of the Dallas Morning News. To what extent she’ll be involved in Game 3 is unclear, however. Given the injury and time off, there will likely be some sort of minutes restriction.
It will also be interesting to see how much head coach Vickie Johnson wants to shake things up after the Wings’ Game 2 win in which they led by as much as 31 and cruised to a double-digit win to even the series. Including the regular season and playoffs, the Wings are 14-16 when Ogunbowale plays and 5-3 when she does not. And while there have certainly been times where they miss her individual scoring ability, they are a much better defensive team without her. Plus, a winner-take-all Game 3 isn’t an easy situation to jump back into when you haven’t played in nearly three weeks.
Does Ogunbowale start? Will she be out there in the closing minutes if it’s a tight game? Those won’t be easy questions to answer, especially if she’s less than 100 percent. Overall it seems having Ogunbowale as an option should be a net positive, but it will be interesting to see how Johnson weighs the risks and benefits of the situation considering this is the most important game for the franchise in over a decade.
The Wings’ Game 2 victory was not only their first playoff win since moving to Dallas in 2016, but it was also their first since 2009, when they were still the Detroit Shock — two relocations ago. They also have not won a playoff series or been to the semifinals since 2009, and both of those droughts will be ended with a win in Game 3.