The Las Vegas Aces are the reigning WNBA champions and have been the league’s pace-setter for virtually this entire season.
Recently, they have not been able to handle the surging New York Liberty but they have another chance to figure things out Thursday night when the league’s top two teams meet again in Las Vegas.
The Liberty (24-6) handed the Aces (27-3) their first home loss of the season, 82-63 on Tuesday night, to win the Commissioner’s Cup. The game, which didn’t count in the standings, came nine days after New York routed visiting Las Vegas 99-61.
“This is why we all came here,” said forward Breanna Stewart, who signed as a free agent with the Liberty during the offseason. “We came to win games, to contend for WNBA championships.”
New York held the Aces well below their scoring average (94 points per game) for the second straight meeting.
“Things have been coming better and better for us after the All-Star (break),” Liberty coach Sandy Brondello said. “We knew we were going to be a good team. We knew it would take some time to get the chemistry together.”
New York made 15 3-pointers and Las Vegas made just five.
“We’ve shot poorly against this team two games in a row,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “You can’t beat a team shooting 19 percent when that team is shooting 43 percent. The math doesn’t work. …
“They keep the pressure on you the entire time. If you’ve ever played poker, you know applying pressure eventually breaks people, and they eventually fold.”
Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson was held to nine points for the second straight game against the Liberty. New York had advantages of 28-8 in bench scoring and 49-28 in rebounding.
“We had 24 rebounds at halftime; we ended the game with 28,” Hammon said. “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that in my entire life.”
The Aces won the first meeting 98-81 on June 29 in Las Vegas. These teams meet for the final time in the regular season Aug. 28 in Brooklyn.
—Field Level Media
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