LAS VEGAS — Kelsey Plum of the Las Vegas Aces is well aware of the New York Liberty’s impressive record this season. They have never lost two games in a row. Plum has also noticed all the peculiar statistics thrown around during the playoffs, like the number of bobby pins dropped on the floor during Game 1 or the birds that flew into the arena for Game 2. However, Plum chooses not to pay any attention to those things.
Like her head coach, Becky Hammon, Plum’s focus is on what her team can control and how they can improve heading into Game 2 of the WNBA Finals. The Aces won Game 1 with a score of 98-81 and are just two wins away from repeating as champions, a feat that has only been achieved twice before in league history. They have the advantage of a sold-out crowd at the Michelob Ultra Arena for Game 2 on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN).
The situation is different for the New York Liberty, but they are no strangers to adversity. They are determined not to drop two games in a row. While Game 2 is not technically a must-win, it is close to being one. The Liberty are focused on their growth and success after losses, hoping to steal a win before returning home.
After their loss in Game 1, the Liberty acknowledged that there are always areas to improve. They believe they can play better and have shown it in previous matchups against the Aces. They are working on instilling confidence and playing as a cohesive unit.
In Game 1, the Liberty scored 49 points in the first half, which Aces coach Hammon identified as an issue. They have relied on Jonquel Jones and Betnijah Laney to lead them in previous playoff games, but Laney had a rare off night. Sabrina Ionescu struggled to find good 3-point looks, and Courtney Vandersloot also had difficulties. The Aces were able to neutralize the Liberty’s key players in the second half.
New York’s head coach, Sandy Brondello, emphasizes the need for collective improvement, rather than focusing on individual performances. They need to move the ball better and find the best shot, rather than settling for decent shots. The Liberty’s strength lies in their teamwork, and they need to get back to their standard game style.
The Liberty had their lowest assist rate of the season in Game 1, only 53% compared to their league-leading rate of 75%. They watched the game footage and had an open discussion about what went wrong. Brondello feels optimistic about their chances in Game 2.
The Liberty’s season has been characterized by resilience and rebounding after losses. They have had winning streaks following previous defeats and are determined to do the same now. Defense has been a challenge for them in previous losses, and they need to make it difficult for the Aces’ dangerous guards to score.
Ultimately, both teams have explosive offenses, and it will come down to which team can stay composed and withstand the momentum swings. The team that can weather the storm and stay together during the crucial moments will come out on top.
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.