The Las Vegas Aces are firmly answerable for the #1 seed within the WNBA playoffs because the league heads into the again finish of its greatest 40-game season. Their begin is 24-2 on historic soil, and their improved protection has made dealing with the champions extra sophisticated for the opposite 11 groups chasing titles.
One in every of them is the New York Liberty (20-6), which is a celebrity workforce within the truest sense of the phrase in that they’ve constructed a roster in free company and are on a troublesome path between success and failure. Each are on the prime of the WNBA standings, with the Connecticut Solar (19-7) among the many prime three.
The Aces dominated the primary assembly of the superteams in late June. They are going to meet once more on Sunday, this time in Brooklyn, for the second of 5 scheduled pre-postseason conferences. Here is what you could know to stream the rematch on ABC because the one-stop present (3 p.m. ET on Sunday).
First refresher assembly
Las Vegas gained, 98-81, on June 29 at Michelob Extremely Area in Las Vegas.
All 5 Vegas starters scored at the least 14 factors, led by Kelsey Plum’s 18, and the workforce collectively shot 58% general and 42.9% (9-of-21) from 3-point vary. Bloom was 5-of-7 from the sphere for 13 factors within the first quarter and the workforce shot 57.1%, regardless of solely main by 6 factors after 10 minutes. Bloom completed with eight assists on the season, and Candace Parker tallied six rebounds.
New York held it to inside a number of possessions till a pivotal third when, as ordinary, the Aces pulled a 27-14 body. New York has been outperformed by solely 4 within the different three quarters mixed. Turnover continued to be a difficulty for New York with 15.
Breanna Stewart led all Liberty scorers with 16 factors on 6-of-15 capturing. Sabrina Ionescu solely had one three-pointer, however Marine Johannès got here off the bench scoring twice and scoring 10 factors. Liberty averaged practically 11 3-sec hits per recreation, led by Ionescu’s 3.4, and had simply eight. In 4 of their six losses, they hit eight or fewer. (They’ve two wins whereas they’ve eight wins towards Seattle and Los Angeles.)
How have issues been for the Aces since that recreation?
He is about as constant as he might be for the Aces, who’re on tempo with the 1998 Houston Comets for the very best file with 26 begins in WNBA historical past. The Aces clinched their first postseason spot within the 2023 playoffs with a 93-72 win over the visiting Atlanta Dream on Tuesday, with a 3rd of the schedule nonetheless to play.
They’ve scored at the least 90 factors in 20 of 26 video games, and at a league-best 94.4 factors per recreation, they’re on tempo to interrupt the all-time file of 93.9 set by the 2010 Phoenix Mercury. Their protection ranks first within the league (78.9 ppg/94.0). drtg) and is a full six factors higher than final yr’s workforce. The Aces’ internet score of 19 is 12 factors greater than Liberty (6.9) in second place.
Chelsea Grey, Jackie Younger, Aja Wilson, and Bloom all common at the least 15 factors per recreation and shoot at the least 50% general. Grey and Younger shoot higher than 45% from 3. Wilson averages 9.5 rebounds and a couple of.3 blocks. Grey averages 6.9 assists.
How had been issues in New York?
It is a Brooklyn prepare experience stuffed with suspense and suspense. And no bullet is protected, regardless of the dimensions or facet of the ball. Since enjoying Vegas, Liberty has had wins over Mercury (4 factors), Storm (4, two), Fever (eight) and Sparks (seven, eight). They misplaced to the Wings, 98-88, and the Lynx, 88-83.
One in every of their greatest issues is turnovers (15 per recreation ranks ninth) and protection. Their steal charge of seven.1% is ninth, with 6.5 steals per recreation rating seventh and trailing the league-leading Suns (8.2) and second-place Aces (8.0). Their 9.3% mass charge is seventh. And when the trio do not fall out, they’re in peril of being upset.
Aces with out Candace Parker
The Aces’ solely flaw seems to be depth, although that proved insignificant within the final postseason. Inexperienced persons nonetheless do a lot of the heavy lifting and it really works.
Parker, the celebrity who signed to the free agent, hasn’t performed since July 7. I used to be out indefinitely whereas in rehab after foot surgical procedure. She has settled into the workforce effectively and has been a key participant, particularly defensively, in the previous couple of video games she has performed. Whereas none of her stats are glorious, she does discover methods to affect which a part of the sport the Aces want that night time.
Parker scored 15 factors within the massive video games towards Fever, Liberty, and Solar every. Towards Liberty, it was 3 of 4 of three to open up the offense and benefit from the workforce’s defensive mismatch. In her rematch with the Fever, she went with no bucket, however was slumped in 12 boards towards rookie of the yr favourite Aliyah Boston.
Within the stretch with out Parker, the workforce leads by a mean of seven extra factors per recreation (opponents common three extra factors on a greater capturing phase). Kiah Stokes hit the beginning spot and averaged 4.1 factors and 6.4 rebounds. She had 17 rebounds towards Sky.
Las Vegas was additionally with out Recona Williams, who didn’t play as a consequence of a decrease again damage. The workforce anticipated her to return late within the season, however her latest arrest for home violence will doubtless imply she by no means crossdresses once more. Aces don’t enable her to take part in workforce actions. They added Iowa’s Ashley Jones to the hardship contract.
Jonquil Jones from Liberty is approaching sturdy
A pivotal change for Liberty since enjoying the Aces is that Jonquil Jones is extra of a former MVP than she was earlier within the yr as she returned from a stress fracture in her foot. Liberty coach Sandy Brondello stated a number of weeks in the past that she thought Jones was “just a little overthinking” and requested her to “exit and play onerous and benefit from what the protection offers you.”
After going scoreless in an time beyond regulation win over the Mystics on June 25, she hit a season-high 27 a month later. It was 10-of-14, together with 2-of-5 from the 3-point vary. Because the All-Star break, she has averaged 11.6 rebounds per recreation in comparison with 6.1 earlier than that. She’s had six double-digit rebounds, together with a season-high 17, in eight video games for the reason that break.
Previous to that, she had reached double figures thrice and capped at 11. This enchancment on the glass and in place can be decisive towards Wilson and Stokes, who stepped in for Parker.
Backup middle Stephanie Dolson has left since June 23 as a consequence of a foot damage and Han Xu together with her nationwide workforce.
What do you want freedom otherwise
It did not assist that New York was wrapping up a tricky stint that started with Sunday morning towards still-healthy Washington Mystics roster Shakira Austin and Elena Delle Donne. The Liberty traveled from New York to Connecticut on Monday to play The Solar on Tuesday, then load up a recreation 13 hour travel day Wednesday to face Vegas on Thursday.
In distinction, the Aces had been in the midst of a five-game house recreation and had two days of relaxation between video games that week. It is the identical this time. The Aces defeated the Dream at house on Tuesday and can be out till Sunday’s recreation. Liberty performs in Minnesota on Friday, travels house on Saturday and hosts the Aces in a morning recreation.
However journey was just one small side of the issue. The aces celebrated on the Liberty protection to construct an early 11-4 lead inside three minutes. Grey has benefited from her rivalry with Ionescu, Younger and Plum have had comparable success, and generally the Aces guards are quicker and extra environment friendly.
Ionescu’s 138 defensive score was the worst of the Liberty group, however not far behind defensive strongmen Betnijah Laney (135.6), Stewart (130.9), Courtney Vandersloot (127.3), and Jones (127.1). Jones’ latest spring to formation and the lack of Parker might assist Liberty enhance there.
New York wants to seek out what works early offensively – hopefully that is what kicks two gamers for an open 3sec – go together with it and do not let their foot off the fuel. The Liberties must be on their recreation offensively, and at the least put our bodies within the passing lanes to scale back the Aces defensively. Las Vegas can flip a 2-point deficit right into a 20-point lead shortly, so not dropping management of the sport is crucial.
When will Ice and Liberty meet once more?
Let’s rely the times: 9. The 2 groups meet once more on August 15 in Las Vegas for the Commissioner’s Cup event the place $500,000 is at stake. That is roughly a 3rd of the workforce’s wage cap.
The Aces, who gained the Western Convention title with a 9-1 file, are topped Cup champions. The Liberty went 7-3 of their cup video games and edged out the Suns (7-3) by profitable each of their cup conferences within the Jap Convention.
They are going to play once more on August seventeenth in common season play in Las Vegas and again once more on the Barclays Middle on August twenty eighth.