Game 4 between the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty had everything one could possibly hope for from a championship contest.
It had a packed at house at Barclays Center, both teams matching each other punch for the punch and the game coming down to the final seconds. There was only one thing wrong with Game 4 of Aces vs. Liberty – it was a Game 4 instead of a Game 5.
But when that game 4 was over, Las Vegas was only one better than New York with the Aces dispatching of the Liberty by a final tally of 70-69.
The Aces picked up the victory despite two starters in Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes sidelined due to injury and renewed questions about the depth of Vegas’ bench. Sydney Colson, Alysha Clark and Cayla George had something to say about that.
It was also fitting that it was Las Vegas’ first victory they earned this season over New York at Barclays Center. The three previous occasions – including Game 3 – where the Aces and Liberty matched up all resulted in New York wins.
That changed this past Wednesday.
Breanna Stewart may have won regular season MVP, but A’ja Wilson made sure she was not leaving Atlantic & Flatbush without a bit of MVP hardware of her own. With her South Carolina coach Dawn Staley perched courtside at Ce-Liberty Row, Wilson scored 24 points and brought down 16 rebounds.
We sometimes forget that a big reason why the Aces are such a dangerous team is because of all the first overall draft picks they have got it right on. Jackie Young (2019) was one of those picks and Vegas does not win this game without her. Young not only scored 16 points but she also dished out seven assists.
Clark knows a bit about championships given she won a pair of rings in 2018 and 2020 with the Seattle Storm. In the near 37 minutes she logged on Wednesday evening, Clark scored 10 points while also bringing down eight rebounds. As for George, she also had a productive evening with 11 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Liberty were in this matchup from start to finish – and the 19 points of Courtney Vandersloot were a major reason why. Not to mention her seven rebounds and six assists.
Betnijah Laney also contributed 15 points, four rebounds and four assists to New York’s cause. Throughout most of these playoffs when Laney has had great games, they have resulted in Liberty wins. The Liberty lead was as many as 12 on Wednesday night.
Sabrina Ionescu has been somewhat off and on these playoffs. She still did score 13 points which is more Ionescu than what she has been throughout these playoffs. In addition, she brought down three rebounds and dished out three assists.
Coach Sandy Brondello may stare a hole through the Liberty stat sheet from this game until next year’s Barclays season opener for two reasons. No. 1 because Stewie was only 3-17 from the field and only tallied 10 points. Secondly because Jonquel Jones, who Las Vegas had no answers for throughout the series, was finally held in check to a mere six points in 33 minutes (she still did grab 11 rebounds).
We may now have to start talking about the “D” word when it comes to the Aces. That “d” word is, of course, dynasty. Only the Aces, Houston Comets and Los Angeles Sparks are teams that have won back-to-back WNBA championships throughout the league’s still relatively young history.
When we think dynasties of the WNBA, one’s most recent example may be the 2010s Minnesota Lynx. Cheryl Reeve’s Lynx only won championships during odd-numbered seasons even though they came close against the Sparks in 2016.
Wilson at 27 years old and just entering the prime of her career is starting to enter the W’s all-time greats conversation.
Hammon is actually adding to her legacy with success in the W as a player and now as a coach.
Candace Parker now has a third championship and all three (Los Angeles Sparks, Chicago Sky) were with different teams.
With two Aces championships alongside a Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup, Sin City has become Win City once again.