‘We’re a championship team for a reason’: Commissioner’s Cup preview between Sky and Aces sees both teams make league history
Both teams have clinched their place in the Commissioner’s Cup, scheduled for July 26. After splitting their two meetings this year, home-court advantage currently falls to the Aces, who have the better record in Cup play.
LOS ANGELES — The Sky walked to their bench after giving up a league-record 41 first-quarter points against the Las Vegas Aces and looked composed.
No one's head hung, shoulders slumped or eyes looked away from general manager/coach James Wade and his staff as they plotted their comeback.
“For the next 30 minutes after they went on that run we just focused on doing the things we wanted to do,” Wade said. “We felt like we were playing a step slower in the first quarter. Once we got our legs under us, we knew we were going to be OK.”
The Sky overcame the largest deficit in WNBA history (28 points) Tuesday night and they did it by establishing a rhythm, getting to the basket when outside shots weren’t falling and outlasting the Aces’ starting five’s firepower.
Becky Hammon’s starters lead the league in minutes played together per game. The Aces average a league-best 91.5 points per game, but their bench averages a league-worst 9.8 points per game.
Once the Sky were able to match the Aces’ tempo from the first quarter and string together key defensive stops, their offense began to flow. They outscored the Aces in all three remaining quarters while dishing out 34 assists, tied for third-most in WNBA history.
“[I was most satisfied with] our composure,” said Candace Parker, who had a double double with 17 points and 10 rebounds. “We don’t want to get down like that. But our composure to weather the storm, come back and stay true to our identity was the biggest thing.”
This was the Sky’s first win in Las Vegas since 2019. They earned two wins against them in 2020, but getting this win on the Aces court felt significant.
For Courtney Vandersloot, who had a game-high 25 points, eight assists and three rebounds it was extra satisfying.
“[I wanted this one] really bad,” Vandersloot said. “It was a bounce-back game. We dropped one we felt like we should have won. Then we play the best team in the league on the road. We needed this one.”
The Sky’s last win in Vegas was two years ago. Since then, they beat the Aces twice in 2020 and lost twice to them in 2021.
In their first meeting of the 2022 season, neither team shot the ball well, but the Sky shot particularly bad from three (16.1%). Of their 76 points, only 16 were assisted.
Both teams have clinched their place in the Commissioner’s Cup, scheduled for July 26. After splitting their two meetings this year, home-court advantage currently falls to the Aces who have the better record in Cup play.
“I don’t feel like we’re out of any game,” Wade said. “We’re a championship team for a reason. You can’t count us out.”