An opportunity to move one round closer toward a second straight title awaits the Las Vegas Aces ahead of their date Sunday with the visiting Chicago Sky in Game 2 of their WNBA first-round playoff series.
The top-seeded Aces looked every bit like the team that captured last season’s championship as they trounced the eighth-seeded Sky 87-59 on Wednesday in Game 1 of the best-of-three series.
Chelsea Gray’s 20 points led five double-digit scorers as Las Vegas complemented its balanced offensive production with stingy team defense. The Sky never threatened the Aces, who saw their lead grow to as many as 32 points.
Las Vegas limited Chicago to 33.3 percent shooting and gave the Sky just eight free-throw attempts. They made six, while the Aces were 16 of 17.
Kahleah Copper was Chicago’s lone scorer in double figures with 15 points, while other backcourt threats Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey combined for just 16.
“Their guards are a handful … it takes a whole team to kind of guard that trio,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said. “Our bigs covered a lot of ground tonight.”
Center Kiah Stokes kept the Sky off the glass with her game-high 15 rebounds, while forward A’ja Wilson bundled her eight boards with four blocks and 14 points.
Copper said Chicago’s offense — which had as many turnovers (14) as it did assists — wasn’t disciplined enough on Wednesday, per ESPN. The 2021 WNBA Finals MVP, who signed a two-year extension with the Sky on Sept. 10, vowed to be more proactive in Sunday’s game.
“We let them disrupt us and kind of rattle us a little bit,” Copper said of Wednesday’s game. “I need to wait for screens, demand some screens and make plays for my teammates because that will also open things up for me.”
Chicago has followed each of its last three losses with a win. For Copper and company, having a short memory is the key to earning their first victory over Las Vegas in five tries this season.
“We have to approach next game not thinking about the last one. Letting this one go,” Copper said. “We don’t want to come out and make the same mistakes.”
A Sky win would force a decisive Game 3 in Chicago on Wednesday.
–Field Level Media