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Las Vegas Aces: 3 Big Takeaways From 99-82 Win Over Liberty

LAS VEGAS ACES: 3 BIG TAKEAWAYS FROM 99-82 WIN OVER LIBERTY

LAS VEGAS ACES: 3 BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM 99-82 WIN OVER LIBERTY — Before the WNBA season even began, the two teams everyone predicted to go all the way were the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty. After all, the Las Vegas Aces were the defending champions. Second, the New York Liberty acquired several talented players during the offseason, which instantly moved them into the title contender conversation.

Simply put, the fact that these two teams are going head-to-head in the WNBA Finals was inevitable.

In the first half of this highly-anticipated matchup, the two teams battled to a near stalemate, with the Liberty taking a three-point lead (49-46) into the break. The Aces flipped the script at both ends of the floor in the second half, turning a competitive contest into a lopsided outcome. The Aces won the game 99-82 and they remain undefeated in postseason play.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the Aces’ Game 1 win over the Liberty.

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New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces Takeaway #3: A Tale Of Two Halves

The New York Liberty were raining down 3-point shots in the first half of this contest. This especially holds true for Marine Johannes. She had scored a total of just five points entering this Finals matchup. However, she scored 14 points in the first half, knocking down four of her seven attempts from beyond the arc.

Two things happened in the second half, though. First, the Liberty were unable to sustain their hot shooting from the 3-point line. Second, the Aces came out of the halftime break and played with pace and purpose.

How good was the Aces’ defense in the second half? Well, they held New York to just 33 points. Not only that, but the Aces also limited New York to just 31 percent shooting from the floor.

The Aces came into this matchup holding opponents to 38.3 percent shooting. As the saying goes, “Defense wins championships.”

New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces Takeaway #2: Aces Win Battle Of The Boards & Hold Their Own From Three-Point Range

The Liberty beat the Aces twice during the regular season and in the Commissioner’s Cup as well. In those three wins, New York collected 57 more rebounds than Las Vegas. Additionally, New York outscored Las Vegas by a whopping 66 points from beyond the arc.

In Game 1, however, the narrative was completely different. Not only did the Aces hold their own in the battle of the boards, but they held a 34-30 edge in this category. This is not a huge advantage by any means, but it was certainly better than what we saw in the Aces’ three losses to the Liberty during the regular season.

As far as the 3-point shooting disparity that favored the Liberty in their three regular-season victories, the Aces flipped this narrative on its head as well. Both teams made nine 3-point field goals. But the Aces shot the long ball at a more efficient rate, going 9-for-22 (40.9 percent), while the Liberty were 9-for-29 (31 percent).

It is important to remember that the Liberty were the best 3-point shooting team in the league during the regular season. They converted 37.4 percent of their attempts from distance. But that hasn’t been the case in the playoffs. Nor was that the case in Game 1, either.

The Aces knew they needed to be better in these areas, and they made a concerted effort to do exactly that

New York Liberty vs. Las Vegas Aces Takeaway #1: Aces’ Backcourt Came To Play

Whenever you talk about the Aces, the first name that comes to mind is A’ja Wilson, and rightfully so. She is a two-time MVP and a two-time Defensive Player of the Year as well.

Wilson led the team in scoring during the regular season and that trend has continued in the playoffs. She led the field in scoring at 25.8 points per contest through the first two rounds of the playoffs. And although Wilson had another solid outing with 19 points and eight rebounds, it was her teammates that showed up and showed out.

Kelsey Plum finished with 26 points and five rebounds. Jackie Young also scored 26 points to go along with six rebounds and four assists. Reigning Finals MVP, Chelsea Gray, chipped in with 20 points, six rebounds, and nine assists. This group became the first trio to record 20 points and five rebounds in a Finals series contest.

Meanwhile, New York’s backcourt trio had a rough day at the office compared to their counterparts. Jacquel Jones (16 points 10 rebounds). Courtney Vandersloot (10 points on 4-for-11 shooting). Sabrina Ionescu scored seven points (on 2-for-7 shooting). Collectively, this trio totaled 30 points between them on 13-for-30 shooting from the field. This is an area where New York will have to improve if it has any hopes of dethroning the defending champs. When  your backcourt is outscored 72-30, it leaves very little room for error.

Overall, the Liberty played their style of game during the first 20 minutes of action. However, the Aces dominated the second half of this contest.

Playoff basketball is about making adjustments from one game to the next. With that sentiment in mind, the Liberty will need to adjust accordingly for Game 2.

On the flip side of the narrative, though, if they are not able to take the Aces out of what they do well at either end of the floor, the Aces are going to win this series hands down.

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