Aces clinch playoff berth amidst controversy with Sky; Sun, Mystics also heading to postseason

Photo Credit: Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Last season, the Las Vegas Aces finished barely on the outside of the playoffs looking in after a 2018 season that was the first for A’ja Wilson (that season’s Rookie of the Year) and a much-ballyhooed travel controversy that resulted in a forfeit to the Washington Mystics.

A year – and a Liz Cambage trade later, Vegas is firmly “All In.”

By virtue of a 100-85 victory over the Chicago Sky, the Aces, who were preseason favorites to win the 2019 WNBA championship, became the third team to clinch a berth to the WNBA’s postseason.

With the current playoff format being what it is, expect the teams at the top of the standings to continue playing their main players as the goal will shift towards earning one of those coveted top two seeds which earn teams automatic bids into the semifinals.

A’ja Wilson returned just in time for Vegas and if her 25 points, eight rebounds and four blocks she posted in Chicago are any indication of what to expect, the Aces will indeed live up to their namesake come the playoffs.

Oh, and of those 100 points, nearly half of them came courtesy of her and Cambage, who “doubled down” with a double-double – 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Kelsey Plum also contributed 12 points and Kayla McBride finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.

Diamond DeShields, led all scorers with 28. She also made five of her 10 3-point attempts. Cheyenne Parker added 16 off the bench with seven rebounds.

Courtney Vandersloot added 11 points and nine assists and Allie Quigley scored 10. Astou Ndour also hauled in 10 rebounds in 26 minutes of playing time.

The story from this game was not only that the Aces clinched a playoff berth in Wilson’s return, but what supposedly happened during (and after) the game as well.

This year’s playoff picture began its crystallization when Washington became the first team to punch its ticket. Mike Thibault’s Mystics earned an 86-79 win in Minneapolis, taking the first step to perhaps correct last year’s sweep in the Finals by the eventual champion Seattle Storm.

A 30-17 scoring binge by Washington propelled the Mystics to victory – and the postseason. Ariel Atkins led all scorers with 18 points.

Aerial Powers and Elena Delle Donne each added 14 with Delle Donne also contributing eight rebounds to the Mystics’ cause. Natasha Cloud also finished with 13 points and eight assists and made history by becoming the Mystics’ all-time assists leader.

Sylvia Fowles had 16 points and eight assists for the Lynx. Damiris Dantas and Danielle Robinson each contributed 14 with Dantas also adding seven rebounds. Napheesa Collier was one rebound shy of a double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds while Odyssey Sims added 10 points.

Also helping out in the crystallization of the 2019 – playoffs was the Connecticut Sun.

Connecticut, while not as ballyhooed as the Los Angeles Sparks and Las Vegas Aces heading into the season, also was entering 2019 with high expectations. Those expectations have been lived up to all season long by Curt Miller’s team.

With the Sun’s 78-68 victory over the Dallas Wings, there will be postseason basketball for the Sun in 2019.

The win also improved the Sun’s record to 13-1 at games this season at Mohegan Sun Arena. If the road to a WNBA title goes through Uncasville, the rest of this year’s playoff field ought to take real notice.

Courtney Williams led Connecticut with 18 points and six rebounds. Jonquel Jones and Jasmine Thomas each scored 16 points with Jones hauling in 10 rebounds and Thomas dishing out nine assists.

Allisha Gray led all scorers with 22 for Dallas. Arike Ogunbowale added 20 points and Isabelle Harrison contributed 11 points with 13 rebounds.

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