The Las Vegas Aces will begin their defense of their WNBA crown when they host the Chicago Sky on Wednesday night in the first contest of a three-game, first-round playoff series.
The top-seeded Aces will host Games 1 and 2. If a third game is necessary, it will be played in Chicago on Sept. 20.
Las Vegas (34-6) set an WNBA record for victories during a dominating season in which it scored at least 100 points on 11 occasions and posted a record 25 double-digit victories.
The Aces enter the postseason with momentum after winning their past four games.
“If you had said 34-6 to me back in May, I would have jumped at that in a second,” Las Vegas coach Becky Hammon told reporters. “And here we are. The amount of energy and effort (the players) put into being professionals, their approach to the game — they were so good.”
The Aces swept the three-game regular-season series against the eighth-seeded Sky (18-22). Las Vegas won the matchups by an average of 10.7 points.
Chicago, which won the 2021 WNBA title, finished the season strong with three straight victories and five in six games.
Courtney Williams had 23 points, a career-best 16 rebounds and a career-high-tying 13 assists as the Sky beat the host Connecticut Sun 102-91 in overtime in Sunday’s regular-season finale. It was her second career triple-double and the sixth in franchise history.
Williams isn’t too concerned about Chicago’s underdog status in the series.
“It’s a different game,” Williams said. “The playoffs are a whole other ball game. It’s pretty much 0-0.”
Three-time All-Star Kahleah Copper was WNBA Finals MVP when Chicago won the 2021 title. She is the Sky’s leading scorer with a career-best 18.7 points per game, but she missed the regular-season finale due to a toe injury.
The Aces are led by two-time WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, who is a leading candidate again this season after averaging 22.8 points and 9.5 rebounds per game.
Las Vegas has three other All-Stars on the roster in Kelsey Plum (18.7 ppg), Jackie Young (17.6) and Chelsea Gray (15.3 points, 7.3 assists per game). Gray was WNBA Finals MVP last season.
The Aces completed the regular season with a 100-85 home win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday. Wilson scored 36 points and Plum added 30.
“Forget everything that happened in the regular season,” Plum said. “You have to treat it as a one-and-done type of thing in terms of our sense of urgency.”
The Los Angeles Sparks (2001-02) are the most recent team to repeat as WNBA champions.
–Field Level Media
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