Thump In The Morning

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After Game 1 of the WNBA Finals on Sunday, a narrow three point win by the Las Vegas Aces over the Connecticut Sun. Two time MVP A’ja Wilson approached Las Vegas Aces teammate Kelsey Plum and “told her she needed to get her s— together.” Plum, the team’s leading scorer in the regular season averaging 20.2 points per game, had struggled most of the playoffs to find her groove, hitting just 39% of her shots from the field and 26% from 3 following Game 1. And prior to hitting a key 3 late in the fourth quarter on Sunday, she started 0-for-8 from the field and That’s definitely not the way to win a championship.

Getting cussed out by Wilson, which Plum said she welcomed, led to a “statement game,” in Wilson’s words, from the 2017 No. 1 overall pick on Tuesday night, helping propel the Aces to an 85-71 victory that positioned them one win away from clinching their first WNBA title.

“[I made] sure she understood that we need her to make shots,” Wilson said, “and I know it sounds harsh, but KP is a pro, and she went out there and took care of business.” While the series now moves to Uncasville, Connecticut, for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary), no team in the history of the WNBA playoffs has come back from a 2-0 deficit to win a best-of-five series.

The Sun were a sleeping giant all season after being upset as the title favorites last year by Chicago in the semifinals. Connecticut got the best of the Sky in the rematch this year, winning a blowout in Game 4 and coming back in Game 5 to advance to the WNBA Finals. Jonquel Jones won MVP last season and had another fine year as the star center for Connecticut.

Alyssa Thomas may have been even more valuable than Jones this year as a do it all forward who handles the ball in transition, scores inside, makes valuable passes, and locks down whoever she is guarding. Veteran wing DeWanna Bonner could be a swing factor for the Sun as they look for perimeter scoring.

But with saying all of that, they are still facing a dynamic team with weapons on the court and off the bench. The Aces were powered by 2022 WNBA MVP A’ja Wilson, who had a game-high 26 points and 10 rebounds, and punctuated by 20-point performances from Chelsea Gray (21 points, eight assists) and Kelsey Plum (20 points, seven assists).

Aces coach Becky Hammon said Plum’s ability to get downhill was the difference in Game 2. The former University of Washington star made six of her seven shots in the paint to join Wilson and Chelsea Gray as 20-point scorers, while also dishing out seven assists that tied for a personal high this postseason.

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