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Favored Aces, Sun chase first title as WNBA Finals tip off

A new league champion will be in the offing when the Las Vegas Aces and Connecticut Sun square off to begin the WNBA Finals with Game 1 on Sunday in Sin City.

Game 2 will be Tuesday in Las Vegas before the best-of-five series switches to Uncasville, Conn., for Games 3 and 4 (if necessary) on Thursday and Sept. 18, respectively.

The Aces, the top seed in the playoffs, advanced to the finals by beating Seattle in four games, finishing the best-of-five semifinal series with a 97-92 win on the road on Tuesday. Las Vegas roared back with three wins over Seattle after losing the series opener.

Chelsea Gray scored 31 points — 15 of them in the fourth quarter — and distributed 10 assists in Tuesday’s win, becoming the first player in league history with at least 30 points and 10 assists in a playoff game. Gray averaged 25 points, 8.5 assists and 4.8 rebounds per game while making half of her 3-point shots (12-for-24) in the series.

A’ja Wilson, who was named league MVP on Wednesday, added 23 points and 13 rebounds for the Aces while Jackie Young scored 18 points and Kelsey Plum had 15.

“Definitely excited to be moving on,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said after Tuesday’s win. “This was a tough, gritty win on our part. So we’re obviously thrilled to be going back to the finals — I’m pumped for our girls.”

It’s Las Vegas’ second trip to the finals in three years. The Aces lost to Seattle in 2020 in the COVID-19 bubble in Bradenton, Fla.

The third-seeded Sun earned their first trip to the finals since 2019 and fourth time overall with a tough 72-63 road victory over defending champion Chicago on Thursday in a winner-take-all game 5. Connecticut was down by 11 points with four minutes remaining and scored the game’s final 18 points to advance.

Jonquel Jones racked up 15 points and 10 rebounds in the win over Chicago, as all five of Connecticut’s starters scored in double figures. DeWanna Bonner led the Sun in the semifinals, averaging 13.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists through the five games.

“It’s exciting, right. There’ll be a new champion in this league,” Sun coach and general manager Curt Miller said after the win over Chicago. “Not many people will pick us against Vegas either. And that’s okay. We’re going to prepare and try to make it a Connecticut Sun style of game.”

Las Vegas beat the Sun in two of the three contests between the teams this season. The games were decided by an average of 7.7 points, and both teams won at least once on the road.

–Field Level Media

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