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Jun 28, 2024 12:43 pm

Aces to test improved defense vs. short-handed Mystics

las vegas aces wilson block

The Las Vegas Aces’ quest for a three-peat so far has not featured the same early dominance that the 2022 and 2023 championship teams displayed.

Las Vegas (9-6) already has lost as many games this year as it did in 40 regular-season contests last summer. The Aces were 14-1 at this point last season and 13-2 through their first 15 games in 2022.

But Las Vegas enters Saturday’s road game against the Washington Mystics on a season-high three-game winning streak, and Aces center A’ja Wilson believes the team is finding its flow.

“The biggest thing is we’re really starting to lock down on the defensive end,” Wilson said after Las Vegas’s 95-83 road win over the Chicago Sky on Thursday. “… That was the biggest difference in our wins and our losses.”

The Aces have held opponents to 83 points or fewer in each game during their winning streak. Las Vegas’ improved defense comes following a 1-3 stretch where it allowed at least 90 points in all four games.

“It seemed as if we were just a step behind, or just a little slow, or just not communicating,” Wilson said of the Aces’ rough patch.

Wilson leads the WNBA in scoring (28.0 points per game) and rebounding (11.3). She and her teammates will face a Mystics squad that has blossomed offensively after managing 72.5 points per game amid an 0-10 start. While the offense improved, Washington’s losing streak to open the season reached 12 games.

Washington (4-14) has averaged 87.8 points over its last eight games while going 4-4. The Mystics put up 91 points on Thursday despite missing four players due to injury but lost by three in overtime to the visiting Connecticut Sun.

Myisha Hines-Allen made all eight of her field-goal attempts to finish with a season-high 21 points for Washington. The sixth-year forward has shot 13-for-16 and scored 33 points over her last two games after totaling 19 points across her previous four.

“She just looks a lot more confident around the rim,” Mystics coach Eric Thibault said. “… I think her scoring comes when she’s doing other things well. I think it just locks her into the game.”

Washington played Thursday’s game without Brittney Sykes (left foot sprain), Karlie Samuelson (left hand fracture), Shakira Austin (left hip) and Aaliyah Edwards (lower back).

The Mystics’ depth will remain thin in the coming weeks as Sykes and Samuelson are both out until at least mid-August.

–Field Level Media

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