Las Vegas are coming up aces again and again.
New York’s big free-agent acquisition Breanna Stewart may have won the Most Valuable Player award for the 2023 WNBA regular season, but there was no liberty for her or her squad in Game 4. Not when Finals MVP A’ja Wilson came up with 24 points and 16 rebounds. Going coast-to-coast with a strong lay-up, as her Aces went back-to-back, circling back ’round with their championship rings.
A 3-1 series win was all she wrote despite the Liberty’s valiant effort in Brooklyn’s Game 3. The Big Apple was crunched by the amount of superstar players Vegas had putting up numbers. Just like the odds in Sin City that were always in the Aces’ favour. Even without injured W legend Candace Parker. An amazing addition to this dream team that only just led her hometown Chicago Sky to the promised land not two years ago.
Her former Sky perimeter scanning teammate Courtney Vandersloot and three-point contest WNBA and NBA record holder Sabrina Ionescu couldn’t shoot their way out of this one. Although speaking of Sab, throwing up during a time-out and returning to the floor to drill big threes is tough.
The Liberty may have bested Vegas for this season’s Commissioner’s Cup, like they did the regular-season award’s show, but the Aces still came up trumps in crunch time.
This may not be Lakers/Celtics, but one thing you can bank (not bet) on is that if these two super squads stay intact, we will have a new basketball rivalry for the new era. One capped off by this formidable final series.
Consider this first blood, drawn on NYC’s home floor. Advantage, Aces. We can’t wait for the revenge or three-peat.
Some may think a team doing the double is boring these days. A repeat that’s getting old, like reruns of your favourite family sitcom, or last night’s spicy meal repeating on you. But save all that like leftovers. This was an epic series that could have gone the full seven if the WNBA finals were allowed this runtime. This best of five format feels like when the NBA was put on tape-delay in the 80s. Until we saw real Magic…and Bird.
What tricks will help the W fly even further after its half-century plus coronation?
Perhaps some of the cards the LV Aces are holding. Becoming the first team to win consecutive championships in 21 years. The last team to do so was the Los Angeles Sparks (2000-2001). Whereas the only other one was the legendary Houston Comets on their iconic 1997-2000 run that shot through the stratosphere. A classic franchise that needs to be brought back like the Sonics.
Just how close was this clash of the W titans? How about a final score of 70-69 in this heartbreaking series finale that didn’t disappoint, unlike a ‘Game of Thrones’ one? A Jackie Young outburst and a Breanna Stewart rimmed out shot iced this game, which Wilson owned like the game-ball.
Vegas made it happen without Chelsea Gray or Kiah Stokes who joined Parker on the injured list. Sticking to Becky Hammon’s gameplan, they gave a Hall of Fame game to the recently enshrined coach.
Gray was the Aces, Finals Most Valuable Player last year and on the bench she was certainly the most valuable in reserve, no substitute. Affirming her team with words of encouragement shouted like a relay runner who continues to sprint with the teammate they just passed the baton to. All the way to the finish line.
In Stewart and Wilson, it was a battle of the bigs, blocking and sizing each other up like they’ve been doing all year. There was also a glut of great guards changing the outcome of games, like Kelsey Plum, ready to light another victory cigar.
New York will be back to put it all on black, but tonight the strip will be alive with a team that gives a victory parade like no other.
They didn’t just understand. Las Vegas aced the assignment.