On Sunday, the Las Vegas Aces opened the 2023 WNBA Finals with a comfortable 99-82 win over the New York Liberty in Game 1 at Michelob Ultra Arena
The Las Vegas Aces are up 1-0 in the best-of-5 series against the New York Liberty. In a back-and-forth chess match Sunday — for three quarters. Going into the half New York was up by three before Las Vegas took control at Michelob ULTRA Arena.
Leading by seven points to start the fourth period, the Aces then scored six unanswered points and ran away with the victory. The Aces’ backcourt combined for 72 points as Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum each had 26 points and Chelsea Gray scored 20. A’ja Wilson added 19 for the defending champions.
Coach Hammon said the team gave themselves a “D” grade for how they played in the first half of Sunday’s game. Coach Hammon thought that might have been a bit harsh as they were only down by three points at halftime. She gave them a C-minus. But when the Aces came out of the locker room, they turned things around into an A by Coach Hammon’s standards.
Well, we didn’t do a great job stopping them obviously,” head coach Sandy Brondello said postgame. Brondello noted that the Aces’ guards were able to do damage in the paint while also getting good looks from the perimeter.
Plum missed six of her seven shots from downtown but Young and Gray combined to drain eight of their 13 three-point shot attempts. Las Vegas made nine of 22 attempts from downtown (41%) in Game 1.
Young’s first two made field goals of the game came from behind the arc as Liberty defenders were too slow to close out on the two-time All-Star. Brondello pointed out that her team’s closeouts on the perimeter weren’t good enough.
It’s New York’s first trip to the Finals in 21 years, while Las Vegas is trying to become the first team to win back-to-back championships since the Los Angeles Sparks won in 2001 and 2002. The Aces were also the top seed in 2022 when they won their first championship.
Game 2 of the best-of-five series is at 9 p.m. ET Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App). New York will host Game 3 and, if necessary, Game 4.