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    Las Vegas Aces, New York Liberty expect a competitive WNBA Finals
    • October 8, 2023

    After having a week off after their semifinals series, Las Vegas and New York are set for the WNBA Finals with Game 1 on Sunday afternoon.

    There’s been a lot of hype around the two teams since the season began with both expected to be playing for the championship. There four regular season meetings, which were split 2-2, and the Commissioner’s Cup championship game weren’t competitive with the closest game being decided by nine points.

    Players on both sides expect the WNBA Finals to be a lot more competitive.

    “It’s the Finals. We all know what’s at stake. I don’t expect a blowout on either end,” Aces star A’ja Wilson said. “It’s going to be an elite competitive basketball (series).”

    Breanna Stewart agrees with Wilson that the regular-season matchups weren’t indictive of how the Finals most likely will go.

    “We played them early, then we saw them a lot in August. We haven’t played them since,” Stewart said. “I hope it’s a great series for everyone to be a part of.”

    History is at stake for both sides. The Aces are looking for a second consecutive championship which would be the first time it’s happened in the league since Los Angeles won two straight in 2001 and 2002. The Liberty are aiming for their first-ever title — the only remaining original WNBA franchise not to win one. A victory would also give the city of New York its first basketball championship since the Knicks won in 1973.

    Here are a few other tidbits for the series.


    Stewart was hard-pressed to remember a time she lost in a championship game/series. She was 4-0 in college at UConn winning national championships. Stewart then went 2-0 with Seattle in the WNBA Finals as well as winning one Commissioner’s Cup title in Seattle and one in New York. She’s also never lost playing as a pro for the U.S. in World Cup or Olympic play.

    “I don’t know what the stat is, but it’s interesting to think about,” Stewart said.

    After pondering it for a few moments, Stewart did recall one defeat for a title. That came back when she was a freshman at UConn and the Huskies lost to Notre Dame in the Big East championship game.

    “I think it was the only year I played in the Big East,” Stewart said, as the Huskies switched to the American Athletic Conference her sophomore year.

    Then with a smile on her face, Stewart said, “Then we figured it out,” referring to the Huskies routing Notre Dame in the Final Four en route to the first of her four championships.


    New York ended a 20-year drought of not reaching the WNBA Finals, which was tied for the longest in league history with the Washington Mystics. The Liberty were last in the championship series in 2002 where they lost to the Sparks. Aces coach Becky Hammon was one of the stars of that Liberty team, which came closest to ending that long streak in 2015 when they lost to Indiana in the Eastern Conference Finals. The next year the league switched its playoff format going away from Eastern and Western Conferences. New York hadn’t won a series after 2015 until this year.


    Five of the last six winners of the league’s MVP award are playing in this series. Stewart won it in 2018 and this season, Wilson was the winner in 2020 and 2022. Jonquel Jones was chosen as the best player in the WNBA in 2021. In the five meetings this season, Stewart averaged 17.4 points with 7.4 rebounds. Wilson had 15.6 points and 6.3 rebounds. Jones had 10.6 points and 10.6 rebounds in the five matchups.


    Chelsea Gray and Sabrina Ionescu grew up near the Bay Area and both were thrilled that the Golden State Warriors will have an expansion team starting in 2025. It will give a chance for their family and friends to see them at home.

    “The little kid inside of me is happy and joyous,” Gray said. “I can’t wait for the franchise. We had to go an hour to Sacramento to see (the Monarchs) play. But for now it to be in San Francisco the little kid in me was like finally.”

    Ionescu was equally thrilled.

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    “When we play there down the road, I’ll be able to go home for dinner,” she said. “My family will get a chance to see me play.”


    Since the Finals went to a five-game series in 2005, only seven of the series have gone to a deciding fifth game. There have been just as many three-game sweeps. The last Finals to go five games was the 2019 series between Washington and Connecticut that the Mystics won.

    ​ Orange County Register