WNBA Finals Preview: Aces Seek Trump Card Against Sun


It was a good two weeks for the Las Vegas Aces. A really good two weeks. Perhaps the best fortnight in franchise history. 

On August 26, the league announced that Becky Hammon won WNBA Coach of the Year. 

Then, on August 29, the W announced that Jackie Young won Most Improved Player. 

The next day, A’ja Wilson won Defensive Player of the Year. It was also announced that Wilson was selected to the All-Defensive First Team. 

On Tuesday, the Aces beat the Seattle Storm 97-92 to win the semifinals series and clinch a spot in the Finals, where they’ll face the Connecticut Sun.  

And then, on Wednesday, A’ja Wilson won the Most Valuable Player award. This was her second time winning (she previously secured the trophy in 2020), making her just the seventh player in league history with more than one MVP prize. Additionally, Wilson is just the fifth player in history to win DPOY and MVP in the same season.  

These past two weeks have been filled with hardware. But the season will be disappointing if Vegas isn’t holding the ultimate hardware: the WNBA Championship Trophy. 

Here’s how they can do it. 

Win the Turnover Battle 

In the July 17 matchup between the Aces and the Sun, Connecticut turned the ball over 22 times. The Aces turned those turnovers into 33 points en route to a 91-83 victory. In the May 31st matchup between these two teams, the Aces forced 14 Sun turnovers, converting 22 points on those miscues. Vegas went on to win the game 89-81. However, in their sole loss to Connecticut this season, on June 2, the Aces lost the turnover and points-off-turnovers battles.  

This year, the Aces turned the ball over fewer times than any other team (11.7 per game). Conversely, the Sun was third worst in the category (15.6 per game).  

There is a path to victory for the Aces: take care of the ball, cause Connecticut mishaps, and turn those mistakes into points on the other side. Forcing turnovers is the easiest way to gain momentum and the quickest way to stop an opponent’s run. If the Aces can win the turnover battle, they can win the series. 

No Heroes Allowed 

Breanna Stewart scorched the Aces with 42 points in game four of the semifinals. Luckily, Vegas still came out on top. However, they can’t afford that kind of production from any of Connecticut’s stars in this series. 

In their three matchups this season, Vegas allowed a Connecticut player to score 20 or more only once: Jonquel Jones‘s 20 points on June 2. 

The Sun is too potent. Any one of their starting five could put up 15 or 20 in a game, not to mention the Sixth Woman of the Year, Brionna Jones. The Aces should be able to counter that strength, considering Vegas has multiple high scorers. Yet, if one of those Connecticut stars gets loose for 25 or 30 in a game, on top of consistent scoring from the others, Vegas won’t be able to keep up.  

Win The Third Quarter 

This one is pretty simple: win the third quarter, (probably) win the game.  

It’s been the pattern all season long for the Aces. In the regular season and playoffs, when Vegas matched or beat their opponents in third quarter scoring, they were 23-4. In games when they lost the third quarter, they were only 8-7.  

For a team with the best record in the league, the Aces looked flat a lot, especially in third quarters. Multiple times this season, Vegas took a lead into halftime, only to give it up a few minutes into the second half. That tactic won’t cut it against the Sun, who can grab momentum and run with it anytime.  

Who’s hungrier? 

While each team recently had a lot of playoff success, neither has won a championship. It will be the first title for either franchise. Both teams have stars, both have great coaches, and both have a chip on their shoulders. Who will come out with more energy? Who will make the extra effort? Who wants it more? 

This afternoon, we find our first answers.

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About Jack Levenberg

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