LAS VEGAS ACES: 3 BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM 70-69 WIN OVER LIBERTY
LAS VEGAS ACES: 3 TAKEAWAYS FROM 70-69 WIN OVER LIBERTY – Greetings basketball fans. Welcome back to our WNBA playoffs coverage here at Godzilla Wins. The defending champion Las Vegas Aces faced the New York Liberty in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday night.
The Aces came into this pivotal Game 4 short-handed. Both Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes were ruled out due to sustaining foot injuries. Taking that into consideration, the odds appeared to be in New York’s favor.
Early on, things looked bleak for the Aces as they trailed by nine points (39-30) at halftime. Las Vegas did eventually bounce back and led by as many as seven points in the final frame.
But in this back-and-forth battle, no lead proved to be safe in this one. The Aces managed to erase a 12-point deficit and led 70-64 with about 90 seconds left in regulation. This game was far from over, though. Thanks to a 3-pointer by Courtney Vandersloot and a foul-line jumper by Sabrina Ionescu, the lead was cut to 70-69.
New York had the last possession of the game with a chance to pull off another win on their home court. On the last sequence, the Aces forced the ball out of Breanna Stewart’s hand. She passed the ball to Betnijah Laney, who subsequently passed to a wide-open Vandersloot. Vandersloot got off the shot off but it was a bit rushed. Jonquel Jones secured the rebound, but her put-back attempt came after the game clock expired.
As a result, the Aces won the game 70-69, becoming the first team to repeat since the Los Angeles Sparks did so in 2001-02.
Here are three notable takeaways from the Aces’ title-clinching win in Game 4.
Las Vegas vs. New York Liberty Takeaway #3: Role Players Come Up Huge For The Aces
Sydney Colson played nearly 15 minutes off the bench. She scored two points and finished the game with a plus-17 rating. Not bad for someone who had played a total of 19 minutes during the playoffs.
Next up, we have Cayla George. She had played a total of just 17 minutes prior to Game 4. Make no mistake, George did not have an efficient game by any means. She converted just 4 of her 14 shot attempts and she shot 3-for-10 from deep.
However, in 30 minutes of action, she produced 11 points, four rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Additionally, her pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter cut the Liberty’s 12-point lead in half.
Last, but certainly not least, let’s give Alysha Clark a little love as well. During the regular season, she averaged 6.7 points per outing. In Game 4, she finished with 10 points (on 4-for-7 shooting) to go along with eight rebounds and two assists.
With two starters out of the mix, the Aces needed their role players to step up and they did exactly that.
Las Vegas vs. New York Liberty Takeaway #2: Aces FINALLY Get A Win At Barclays Arena
It is no secret that the Barclays Center had been a House of Horrors for the Aces this season. Back in early August, New York pounded them to the tune of 99-61. New York duplicated its success against Las Vegas a few weeks later, winning that game 94-85.
That trend continued in Game 3 as well. In the Liberty’s 87-73 win, they held the Aces to just 33.3 percent overall and just 31.8 percent from 3-point range. All in all, the Liberty’s margin of victory over the Aces in their last three home games was 20 points per contest.
Early on, it appeared that the Aces were headed toward another lopsided loss at the Barclays Center. They produced their lowest first-half scoring total in this Finals series. In the fourth quarter, the Aces got out to a seven-point advantage only to see New York rally.
And when A’ja Wilson hit a tough jumper to give Las Vegas a six-point lead, it appeared that New York was going to overcome that deficit as well. But thanks to solid team defense on the game’s final possession, the Aces finally got a win on the Liberty’s home court. Even more important, they are now back-to-back champions. A feat that has not been accomplished in over two decades.
Las Vegas vs. New York Liberty Takeaway #1: A’ja Wilson Deservedly Wins The Finals MVP Award
Breanna Stewart was named this year’s most valuable player. Unfortunately, for the Liberty, the league MVP went MIA in this series. Following a season in which she averaged a career-best 23 points per game, Stewart was unable to duplicate her regular season success against the Aces.
Her scoring production dropped nearly seven points per contest (16.3). Not only that, but she shot 36.2 percent from the field and 17.6 percent from distance. This was a significant dip from the shooting percentages she posted during the regular season (46.5 percent overall and 35.5 percent from 3).
Meanwhile, Wilson – who said it hurt like hell not to win the MVP award – played at a different level. In the four-game set against New York, Wilson compiled averages of 21.3 points and 12.5 rebounds per contest. This includes a 24-point, 16-rebound effort in the series clincher.
To be objective, it should be mentioned that Wilson shot just 4-for-14 in Game 3. However, she shot an efficient 59.3 in this memorable series.
Along with that, Wilson is the first player in WNBA history to have multiple 20-point, 15-rebound postseason games. Her postseason run marked just the second time in league history that a player tallied 200 points and 100 rebounds in the playoffs. Wilson also accomplished this feat during the team’s first title run last season.
Because the Aces have now won back-to-back titles, the dynasty talk has already begun to surface. Not only that but both the Aces and the Liberty are already the prohibitive favorites looking ahead to 2024.
Both the Aces and Liberty gave us a season to remember across multiple fronts. And as a fan of the women’s game, I am already looking forward to the 2024 season.