CHICAGO — In what many contemplate a possible WNBA Finals matchup, the Las Vegas Aces received the second annual WNBA Commissioner’s Cup championship sport with a 93-83 victory over the host Chicago Sky on Tuesday at Wintrust Arena.
Kelsey Plum led all scorers with 24 factors, whereas A’ja Wilson (17 factors, 17 rebounds, 6 blocks) and Candace Parker (20 factors, 14 rebounds) every had double-doubles.
But it was Chelsea Gray who was named the sport’s MVP after posting 19 factors, 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Gray, the only real Vegas starter not to be named an All-Star and play within the sport in Chicago earlier this month, as an alternative skilled her personal particular second at Wintrust this week and was embraced by her teammates upon being revealed as MVP.
“At the top of the day, you’ll be able to speak in regards to the numbers and this and that, however she wins video games, and that to me needs to be an important factor,” Plum stated of Gray. “She’s the MVP tonight, however she has been main our staff the entire season. I really feel like, to be trustworthy, she does not get the love and credit score she deserves, and I’m actually, actually glad that folks noticed that tonight .”
Despite Tuesday’s loss, the defending WNBA champion Sky (21-7) stays in first place within the WNBA standings and the Aces (20-8) in second with lower than three weeks remaining within the common season. The groups, the one two to clinch playoff spots to date, have topped the standings many of the season.
Each participant on the Aces was awarded $30,000, with Gray taking house an additional $5,000 for being named MVP. Each Sky participant earned $10,000. Coinbase, the presenting sponsor of the Cup, can be awarding an extra cryptocurrency bonus of $5,000 for every participant within the championship sport.
The Cup additionally featured $165,000 donated to charities throughout all 12 franchise markets.
Tuesday’s sport was eerily comparable to the Aces’ loss to the Sky in late June, when the Aces blew a 28-point lead, giving the Sky the biggest come-from-behind win in league historical past. This time round, Vegas stayed the course by means of Chicago’s comeback effort to maintain enterprise.
The Aces rocked the Sky again on their heels from the get-go, scoring the primary 13 factors of the sport and leaping forward by as many as 23 within the second quarter. Chicago lastly discovered a groove and began hitting its outdoors photographs, with an Emma Meesseman 3 chopping the deficit to 12 within the last minute of the primary half earlier than Jackie Young’s putback layup prolonged Vegas’ lead again to 14 going into the break.
Kahleah Copper and Rebekah Gardner discovered success getting downhill to assist the Sky pull inside seven with lower than 20 seconds remaining within the third, however Plum’s 3 to make it a 10-point lead going into the ultimate body gave the Aces the momentum the remainder of the way in which, permitting them to maintain a double-figure lead many of the fourth quarter.
“We’ve had some sluggish begins towards this staff and had to claw our means out,” Parker stated on classes the staff discovered in Tuesday’s championship setting. “So I believe it is extra so not going through adversity; I believe we’re constructed for that. But it is not getting ourselves into it.”
The Aces be part of the Seattle Storm, who received the primary iteration of the Cup once they beat the Connecticut Sun 79-57 final season at a impartial website in Phoenix, as Commissioner’s Cup champions.
Coaches James Wade (Chicago) and Becky Hammon (Vegas), who each pointed to their experiences enjoying in comparable “cups” abroad, stated that they like how the WNBA has adopted an in-season event of its personal.
“I believe it is actually fascinating,” Wade stated earlier than the sport. “I believe as time goes, because the custom grows, you will see an increasing number of groups take satisfaction in it, particularly once you add the factor of the charitable trigger that you simply play for, it provides much more incentive. … It offers you championship expertise when it comes to enjoying in cash video games. I believe it is good all the way in which round.”
Since the All-Star break, the Aces have received six of their seven video games behind a renewed give attention to protection. The Sky shot 40.5% from the sector towards the Aces and simply 20% from 3.
“We had a bit little bit of a coming-to-Jesus second after All-Star,” Hammon stated. “I believe the way in which we completed that final two and a half weeks earlier than All-Star left a reasonably unhealthy style in all people’s mouth. Right now, it is simply all about protection. … They’ve responded for probably the most half, I believed .”
And whereas they celebrated Tuesday’s win appropriately — Hammon was seen on social media kicking off the champagne bathe within the locker room, Gray introduced a bottle into the room for postgame media, and Hammon’s younger son Cayden even made an look on the podium to sit alongside his mom and her gamers — the Aces know this is just one step in direction of their bigger ambitions.
“It’s a sport. We’re comfortable to win it, clearly. But it is not the last word purpose,” Hammon stated. “It’s a pleasant little factor, and I need the ladies to keep in mind the way it feels. I need them to keep in mind how we acquired right here, which is collectively, and enjoying with one another.”