Greetings basketball fans. Welcome back to our WNBA playoffs coverage here at Latest Basketball News. Hard to believe that the season could be potentially concluding this weekend.
The New York Liberty and the Las Vegas Aces squared off in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night. There have been several blowouts between these two teams this season, and this game was no exception.
The defending champs jumped out to an early 19-point lead and never looked back. And although the Liberty trimmed the deficit to single digits before halftime, Las Vegas pulled away once again en route to a 104-76 victory. They now lead the series 2-0.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the Aces’ dominating victory in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.
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Takeaway #3: Aces Get Off To A Hot Start And Never Looked Back
The Liberty hung with the Aces in the first half of Game 1. They even led by a 49-46 margin at intermission. But Las Vegas got up off the mat in the second half and went on to win the game by 17 points.
In Game 2, the champs did not wait until the second half to play with purpose and pace. Las Vegas set a WNBA Finals record by scoring 38 points in the first 10 minutes of action. Not only that, but they also shot a sizzling 70 percent from the field (14-for-20) while holding New York to 19 points.
As expected, the Liberty did not go down without a fight. They cut into that double-digit lead that seemed very much insurmountable. Once again, though, the Aces rose to the occasion, showing why they are the defending WNBA champions.
Takeaway #2: Cannot Say Enough About The Las Vegas Aces’ Defense
The Liberty finished the regular season with the second-best scoring average in the league at 89.2 points per contest. New York was also the second-best shooting team in the association. The team converted 46 percent of its shot attempts.
Furthermore, the Liberty were the BEST 3-point shooting team in the league. They converted 37.4 percent of their attempts from beyond the arc. New York also led the field in 3-point shot attempts per game (29.7) and made 3-point shots (11.1).
For the second straight game, the Aces held the Liberty in check across the board. New York shot 26-for-72 from the floor. That is a 36.1 percent conversion rate, folks.
The narrative gets even more grim in terms of New York’s long-range efficiency. The Liberty shot 31 percent from distance in the series opener. In Game 2, however, they connected on just eight of their 35 attempts from the 3-point line (22.9 percent).
To make matters worse, The Aces shot the long ball better than New York as they converted 13 of their 29 attempts (44.8 percent). Simply put, the Aces have beaten the Liberty at their own game.
And from an offensive standpoint, the Aces tallied 31 assists on their 37 made field goals. It is nearly impossible to beat a team that is playing that well at both ends of the court. This is the main reason why the Liberty are facing a 0-2 deficit.
Takeaway #1: A’ja Wilson Continues To Dominate In The Playoffs
New York Liberty forward, Breanna Stewart, was named the league’s most valuable player this season. Meanwhile, A’ja Wilson finished third in the closest MVP race in WNBA history.
Both players had solid seasons. There is no debating that. Unfortunately, for the Liberty, Stewart has struggled a bit since the playoffs began.
During the regular season, she averaged a career-best 23 points per contest. She also shot 46.5 percent from the field and 36.5 from distance. This could not have been an easy feat since it was her first season with the team.
In the postseason, the two-time champion has not had the same level of success. Her scoring has dropped nearly four points per contest. Additionally, she is shooting 36.5 percent from the field and a woeful 20.5 percent from the 3-point line.
Through the first two games of the Finals, Stewart is averaging 17.5 points per contest on 38.8 percent shooting and 20 percent from beyond the arc. That said, she will need to find a way to help her team stave off elimination when these two ball clubs clash again on Sunday.
On the flip side of the narrative, Wilson has been performing at a higher level in the playoffs. During the regular season, she averaged career-highs in points (22.8) and rebounds (9.5).
Through seven postseason contests, those averages have climbed to 24.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per contest. Wilson is shooting 60.4 percent from the field, and she is averaging 2.9 blocks per game as well. Again, Wilson defines what being a two-way player is all about.
“This lady’s been ridiculous, and she’s heard it all,” Aces’ coach Hammond said in a postgame presser on Tuesday, via CBS Sports. “Third in MVP voting? OK. Rest on that. It’s a joke. She’s been off-the-charts efficient.”
“If I would’ve played her as many minutes (as Stewart and Thomas) she would’ve averaged 28 (points) and 13 (rebounds),” Hammond continued. “And that’s all anybody in here would’ve been talking about. But she got screwed because her coach didn’t play her in fourth quarters.”
A head coach standing behind a star player is not surprising, and I would expect nothing less. True, the Aces have multiple scorers on the roster who can impact the game in different ways. For example, Las Vegas had three players that eclipsed the 20-point mark for the second consecutive game. And reigning, MVP, Jackie Gray had a solid all-around game that included 14 points, 11 dimes, and six boards.
At the end of the day, though, Wilson is the engine that makes this team go. And she is a big reason why the Aces are just one win away from being the first team to repeat in over 20 years.