2022 WNBA Finals: A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Aces go up 2-0 over Suns – Yahoo Sports

2022 WNBA Finals: A'ja Wilson, Chelsea Gray and Aces go up 2-0 over Suns - Yahoo Sports

LAS VEGAS – It was physical, it was fast and it was just what the Las Vegas Aces needed as the WNBA Finals move to Connecticut.

The #1 ranked Aces bullied their way to a 85-71 win above No. 3 Connecticut Sun on Tuesday in Game 2 at Michelob Ultra Arena in front of a record 10,211 fans to take a 2-0 series lead. They could clinch their first WNBA championship in Game 3 on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Connecticut. Since the WNBA moved to a best of five Finals format, every team that took a 2-0 series lead swept its way to a title.

A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray continued their hot postseason streaks.

Wilson had her 10th postseason double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds. She has now scored 20-plus points and grabbed 10-plus rebounds in five straight postseason games, a WNBA record. The forward has already won league MVP and Defensive Player of the Year this season and now sits one win away from her first title. She is firmly in the running for Finals MVP.

Gray had 21 points, eight assists and three steals. She briefly left the game and went to the locker room in the second half with what appeared to be an ankle injury after hitting the court hard under the basket. She returned soon after and was a major factor in the Aces’ dominating victory.

Game later Kelsey Plum didn’t score until the final quarter, she came out with a goal in Game 2. She finished with 20 points and seven assists. Wilson, Gray and Plum scored 67 of the Aces’ 85 points. They are the third trio in WNBA postseason history with at least 20 points in multiple games.

“A lot of times I’m hard on myself and I feel like I got a little frustrated with how I performed throughout the finals. I’m glad they took it and I decided to join the party,” Plum said.

A back-and-forth first quarter swung in the Aces’ favor after intermission with the score tied at 14-14. Dearica Hamby and Riquna Williams entered the game for the Aces, who knocked in seven points as the Suns turned the ball over twice in the span. From there, whenever the Sun ran, the Aces had an answer.

“If we can keep our mindset and composure in the first quarter and set the tone, it’s helpful for us down the road,” Wilson said. “But I’m amazed at how far we’ve really come throughout the season because there will be some fourth quarters where it’s like wow, and others, what the world. So I’m very happy where we are, but we’re not done yet. We still have to keep going push forward and still have things we have to take care of. It’s very important for us to come out the way we do.”

Jackie Young also suffered an injury when she was hit with an inadvertent elbow to the face which drew blood. Officials missed the call in the scramble for the loose ball.

The game started a little ominously as the teams seemed unsure of what ring to start with after the opening tip.

How the Aces won Game 2

In Game 1, the Sun dictated the tempo of the game and made it a “sludgy” defensive, low-scoring battle. In Game 2, the Aces flew up and down the court, pushing the tempo.

Wilson and Gray have carried the offensive load this postseason, and Plum’s scoring was a huge difference maker on Tuesday. She’s found other ways to impact the game when her shot isn’t falling, but that shot is sorely needed when the Suns keep things tight.

“There were things that she still did that kept her on the floor and I think that’s the growth as well, not just like she’s back and she’s shooting. She was like who we needed her to be. We need her out there outside. on the floor,” Gray said. “At the end of the day, you can’t help her. I don’t care if she’s 1-for-20, 1-for-8, you can’t help her because you know it’s going to come back. And she big shot for us last game at the 3-point line in the slot in the second half, and we have confidence in her with that.”

Game 3 is Thursday, and with only one day of rest and a cross-country flight, it could be a sloppy, defensive battle. The Aces have shown through the first two games of the series that they can win in that environment or when they can play their high-flying offensive brand of basketball.

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) drives against Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) during the first half in Game 2 of a WNBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Las Vegas.  (AP Photo/John Locher)

Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray (12) drives against Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas (25) during the first half in Game 2 of a WNBA basketball playoff series Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2022, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

What must the Sun do to avoid elimination

Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 16 points and 11 rebounds, and Courtney Williams had 18 points and five assists. Good, but not great stat lines against an Aces squad that can pile on points and pressure.

DeWanna Bonner has struggled offensively this postseason and was 1 of 9 from the field on Tuesday. She is 2 of 18 from the field in the Final for five points. The Sun desperately needs her shot to start falling. She has a ton of postseason experience, moving into third all-time in playoff games played (71). That experience is useful in other ways, but offense is also beautiful.

The Sun had a long field goal drought in the first half, 6:42 of game action, when the Aces took control of the game. They can’t have a similar drought at home in Game 3.

“We’re taking it one game at a time. That’s all we can do,” Jones said. “We’re going to go home like you said. We’re going to have our fans behind us who have been with us all season and we’re going to use that to propel us to victory and that’s what we can do. .”

WNBA Playoffs schedule

Game 1: Las Vegas 67, Connecticut 64

Game 2: Las Vegas 85, Connecticut 71 (Aces lead, 2-0)

Game 3: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 9 p.m. ET Thursday (ESPN)

Game 4: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 4 pm ET Sunday (ESPN)*

Game 5: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 9 p.m. ET Sept. 20 (ESPN)*

* — if necessary

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