The WNBA should be on your radar. If it’s not for the way they’ve used their platform to fight for social justice and stand against systemic racism, then it should be because these women BALL OUT.
I will be the first person to say that I don’t know the game of basketball better than I know baseball, but the WNBA is delivering and they’re doing it without your knowledge. The WNBA is truly dancing like no one is watching, but in this case, you very much should be paying attention.
So let’s get right into the first semifinals matchup, because this one is SPICY.
#1 Las Vegas Aces vs. #7 Connecticut Sun
The Connecticut Sun both should be here in the semifinals, and shouldn’t be. After losing in the 2019 Finals to the Washington Mystics, the Sun were supposed to be a top team in the East in 2020. They were, but that’s not saying a whole lot.
The East was a mess in 2020, with only one of its six teams finishing the season with a record above .500. That team was not the Sun, but the Chicago Sky. After their best player from 2019, Jonquel Jones, opted out of the 2020 season due to concerns over the coronavirus, the Sun looked to a new face for leadership.
Prior to the 2020 season, the Sun made an investment in their future by dealing three first-round picks to the Phoenix Mercury in exchange for DeWanna Bonner. That move has made all the difference for this team in the Wubble. Bonner has been absolute money for the Sun.
Lining up against them are the best the WNBA has to offer in the Las Vegas Aces and the 2020 WNBA MVP A’Ja Wilson.
The Aces also had a star player opt-out of the 2020 season, as Liz Cambage decided to not play. Also like the Sun, an offseason acquisition has made a huge impact in the Wubble. Angel McCoughtry has been heaven-sent for this Aces squad. McCoughtry came to Vegas after spending twelve seasons with the Atlanta Dream, opting for a change of scenery rather than stay for a 13th year.
So with the Aces coming into this matchup the heavy favorites as the best team in the WNBA, the Sun had a lot of minds to change in Game 1.
And they did just that.
The Sun and their 10th-ranked offense absolutely dominated the Aces in the first game of their 5-game series, 87-62. The Sun were led not so much by Bonner, who had a team-high 8 rebounds, but by two members of their 2019 squad, Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas.
Jasmine finished the night with an astounding 31 points against the WNBA’s second-best defense in only 23 minutes of playing time. Alyssa, on the other hand, scored 18 points but had a team-high 6 assists against the Aces, who couldn’t get anything going all game.
Rebounding was was one of the handfuls of places the Sun absolutely dominated the Aces. With 39 boards to the Aces’ 29, the Sun controlled the glass. They also lived behind the arc, dropping 8 threes on 19 attempts.
For Las Vegas, they were 1-for-14 behind the arc. A tough night all around.
That’s not to say all of Vegas didn’t show up. Wilson, as the new league MVP did her best to combat the onslaught from Connecticut, but in the end, she didn’t have too much help. Aside from Jackie Young, who had 17 points off the bench, the Aces were stifled by the Sun. Dearica Hamby, Kayla McBride, and McCoughtry all had fewer than five points in game one.
The Aces needed to show up in game two, as no WNBA team has ever come back from a 2-0 deficit in a five-game series.
Luckily for Las Vegas, they won’t be made into a statistic.
The Sun were dealt a tough blow just five minutes into game 2 as Alyssa Thomas was taken out of the game with an apparent shoulder injury. Thomas’ exit left a lot of the Sun gameplan on the shoulders of Bonner, who rose to the occasion, driving the Connecticut offense with 23 points. Also stepping up was Briann January who dropped 20 points, and went 3-4 from three-point land. Rookie Beatrice Mompremier also stepped up in big minutes shooting 62.5% from the floor and leading the Sun with 9 rebounds.
But in the end, it was the Aces who stepped up big time. While the entire game was a close back and forth battle, the Aces stayed with Connecticut until late in the fourth.
The Aces were led by strong, resurgent performances from McBride, Hamby, and McCoughtry. In game one, the Sun were able to control those three Aces, keeping them in the deck and off the table.
Game two, these women showed up and battled. But that’s the theme of this series, isn’t it?
After a hard-fought game, the 2020 MVP A’Ja Wilson showed up big, scoring two huge buckets late, and drawing fouls on both. Wilson’s 29 points, an Aces franchise record, has brought Las Vegas back into the series. The momentum which seemed to be on the Sun’s side has shifted to Vegas.
Game three is bound to be another tight battle, and frankly, there’s no other way this series should be. These two teams have the strength, ability, and drive to go the distance, while letting your opponent back into the series could spell disaster.
Can the Aces find their top-tier talent again? Or will the Sun continue to get hot at just the right time?
Get into it, y’all. This series is fantastic so far, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
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