Las Vegas Aces into semifinals In the last season, Las Vegas Aces lost a game 5 semifinal loss in playoffs at home against Phoenix Mercury. Phoenix Mercury in an era when they believed they would win the title of WNBA champions.
On Saturday The Aces were the ones who did the crushing. In record time.
Las Vegas made the WNBA record either in the playoffs or during the regular season for the most 3-pointers scored during a game with 23, during a 117-80 defeat of a Phoenix team that was weakened due to illness and absences. Before this, the WNBA record for 3 points in an entire game was 18, which was set five times during the season-long regular. Eight Aces players hit at least one 3-pointer on Saturday.
Aces Coach Becky Hammon, in her debut year in Las Vegas after eight years as an NBA assistant in San Antonio, moved her team one step closer to winning the coveted title. The Aces were the very first group toward 2022’s WNBA semifinals after a two-to-one win in the first round over the Mercury.
The Ace’s offense was unstoppable on Saturday in the first half, setting the tone by shooting the first 10 shots on the field, which was a record for a playoff game. The Aces’ 11 3-pointers during the first half also were an NCAA record, but they didn’t cool down until the second period. The Aces ended up with 63.9 percent from behind the line.
Hammon was unhappy with the team’s defense in the first quarter and she’s said all season long that defense is crucial if the Aces want to take home the franchise’s first championship. However, she did have to smile as she admitted the fact that Las Vegas had a never-before-seen performance from the long-range.
The Mercury didn’t have to defend, and the Mercury did not defend. According to ESPN Stats & Information research, the Mercury contested at least 26 Aces ‘ point attempts as well Las Vegas still made 58 percent of these. The Aces also scored 31 assists.
“Tonight, the offense was special,” Hammon declared. “So you’d have to be remiss not to give them credit.
This was more like a day of offensive play in the WNBA as records for most winning margin in the playoffs were set on Saturday in Chicago The defending Champion Sky beat New York in the final by 38 points. The Aces were close to matching that and won by 37. This was for the first time during WNBA tournament history when two teams that were not playing one another both scored more than 100 points in the same game.
Hammon was asked following game 1 of the season about what her colleague during her first season as the head of this team, the Mercury, Vanessa Nygaard has had to contend with the most difficult issues than anyone else this season.
The center Brittney Griner is in jail for a year in Russia since February. Center Tina Charles had an unofficial divorce from the squad in June. Guard Diana Taurasi is suffering from a quad injury which has kept her out for over the past six games. guard Skylar Diggins-Smith left the team in the closing month of regular-season play due to personal reasons. All four players have played as Olympians or All-Stars.
In the game on Wednesday, a loss to the Game 1 defeat, Phoenix guard Shey Peddy, among the squad’s best players and stabilizers this season, was injured by an Achilles tear, which ended her season. The Mercury decided to use Kaela Davis who was a replacement who was not a participant in the WNBA in 2021, to assist in running the point. She scored 23 points for the team which was an impressive performance for the Mercury.
The Mercury has plenty to work out in the off-season. Taurasi is 40 years old and has recently completed her 19th WNBA season playing for Phoenix. She has stated that she would like to play for the rest of her career however she has yet to announce a choice for 2023.
Diggins-Smith still has one year under her agreement with Phoenix however there was a clear conflict throughout the season with Nygaard and Nygaard, which has raised questions over whether or not they’ll both be returning to Phoenix at the end 2023. Griner was also sentenced to 9 years in prison on charges of drug use in the last month. The speedier release of her will depends on a prisoner swap agreement that can be negotiated between Russia and the United States and Russia.
On Saturday, Nygaard kept the focus on her team’s determination to reach the playoffs despite everything it’s gone through, as well as the WNBA’s and Mercury’s constant vigilance for Griner’s homecoming.
“There were a lot of challenges,” Nygaard admitted. “I’m just really proud of our team and grateful for the opportunity to represent the Phoenix Mercury. They have a great fight and great grit. They’re hardy, they’re tough. But we know there are bigger things in life, too. As hard as our season was, it’s not as hard as BG’s experience right now being in a Russian jail. So we try to keep all that in perspective.”
Chelsea Gray had 27 points to lead the Aces in scoring nine of the 11 attempts, with 7 of 8 from the 3-point line. The guard who stands 5 feet 11 inches already has a title on her resume, and she won it in the year 2016 as a member of the Los Angeles Sparks. She was an unrestricted free agent in the year prior with the Aces and has had a spectacular season throughout the playoffs.
Alongside her accurate shooting, Gray led Las Vegas with eight assists. 18 of the Aces ‘ pointers were made off an offhand pass which included Gray taking seven of them and also assisting on three. Gray has been hot at the perfect moment. She’s shooting 56% in the 3-point range in August, following shooting 31% from May to July. Her shooting average overall has increased from 46% during May to 62% in August.
The former Duke player has also proved solid on the defensive end. As per ESPN Stats & Information research, Gray held the Mercury to 33% shooting during both games in which she was the main defensive player.
“Right now, as a team, we’re playing our best basketball on both ends,” Gray stated. “You want to peak at the right time. And for me individually, that’s what I’m feeling.”
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