LAS VEGAS — The highly anticipated WNBA Finals showdown between the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty has, so far, been dominated by the Aces. With a 2-0 lead in the series, the Las Vegas Aces are poised to secure the 2023 WNBA championship.
“They don’t leave me speechless very often, but they executed defensively, offensively shared it,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “Everything we’ve been asking them to do … they’re the real deal. Their competitiveness and their fight for each other, they’re a real team.”
Teams that go up 2-0 in a best-of-five WNBA playoff series are 17-0 all time. In the Finals, teams have lost all eight series in which they trailed 0-2 and were swept in seven of the eight instances. Either the Aces will complete the championship sweep or the Liberty will manage to keep their season alive Sunday when the teams reconvene for Game 3 at 3 p.m. ET (ABC) in New York.
New York had not lost back-to-back games all season, but on Wednesday the Aces played some of their best basketball since Hammon took over in 2022. It started from the opening frame, when the Aces jumped ahead by 10 points within the first 2:36. Las Vegas led by 20 points with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter and by 22 points 33 seconds into the second.
“Great defense, playing out of our defense, unselfish and just our physicality went up another level starting the game,” 2022 Finals MVP Chelsea Gray said.
Las Vegas shot 70% from the field and 60% from 3 in the first period (6-for-10), with each of its five starters (including post A’ja Wilson and defensive specialist Kiah Stokes) knocking down at least one trey. Aside from the second quarter, when the Liberty fed center Jonquel Jones, the Aces were fully in control.
“We’re a group that has been together for a little while and we’ve been through the highs, the lows, the roller coaster that this game brings,” Wilson said. “I think it’s just a beautiful thing to watch unfold and flourish.”
The Aces have outscored the Liberty by 45 points in this series, the third-largest point differential by any team through two games of a best-of-five WNBA playoff. It’s a complete reversal from the August matchups between these star-studded squads, a month in which the Liberty beat the Aces three times.
Added Hammon: “We had our little rough stretch, and we should — every team should have a rough stretch. You shouldn’t go through the season just skipping along. When you hit the rough patches, you get to see what you’re made of. And I know what my team is made of.”
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.
Rachel Adams is your WNBA insider, delivering comprehensive coverage of women’s basketball. With a commitment to highlighting the talent and achievements of WNBA players, she provides game analysis, player profiles, and inspiring stories from the league.