There will be a twist to the second WNBA Commissioner’s Cup championship game in league history on Tuesday night in Chicago.
Last year’s game was played on a neutral court in Phoenix, with Seattle walloping Connecticut. There will be nothing neutral about Tuesday’s locale as the Chicago Sky play host to the Las Vegas Aces.
In the extra game on the schedule, the teams will compete for a trophy and $500,000 worth of prizes, most going to the winning team.
Each player from the winning team earns at least $30,000, while members of the losing team will receive $10,000 apiece. Also, the game MVP picks up an extra $5,000. While the game doesn’t count in the regular-season standings, the Sky and Aces earned their spots during select regular-season games.
Chicago is the defending WNBA champion and is currently the best team in the league at 21-7, a game better than the Aces. Kahleah Cooper leads the Sky with 14.8 points per game, while veteran Candace Parker has averaged 13.6 points and 7.8 rebounds.
If Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot (concussion) sits out, as she has the last four games, the Sky will lean on their depth. But Las Vegas is 10-3 on the road, leaving coach Becky Hammon confident despite playing in an opponent’s venue.
The Commissioner’s Cup title game will be the start of a six-game road trip that takes the Aces to Indiana (two games), then Washington, Dallas and Seattle. Las Vegas’ Kelsey Plum is second in the league with 20.1 points per game, while A’ja Wilson averages 19.4 points and 9.7 rebounds.
“We’ve been better on the road than at home, so hopefully that trend continues,” Hammon said. “We are literally making a whole circle around the United States. But I think the road has been good for us with that foxhole mentality.”
Chicago gets another opportunity under the bright spotlight at home, where it won its first WNBA championship in October.
Sky coach James Wade has used Julie Allemand and Dana Evans to replace Vandersloot, often using both in fourth-quarter clutch time.
“When one of them is doing something and you need a change of pace, you can put the other one in,” Wade said.
The teams have split two regular-season matchups this year, each winning on the road.
–Field Level Media
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