The 2022 WNBA Finals are upon us, with Game 1 of the best-of-five series set for Sunday afternoon. For the second time in the last three seasons, the Las Vegas Aces find themselves in the finals. Two years ago, the Aces were swept by the Seattle Storm. But they avenged that defeat by beating the Storm in the semifinals, advancing to play the Connecticut Sun. So let’s take a closer look at both sides in the WNBA Finals.
Las Vegas Aces Outlook
For the Aces, the 2022 season began with the hiring of Becky Hammon as the new head coach. Hammon had been an assistant with the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs since 2014 and has seamlessly adjusted to being a head coach in the WNBA. But while the Aces had a new coach, the quartet of Kelsey Plum, A’ja Wilson, Jackie Young, and Chelsea Gray remained intact from the previous season, as Las Vegas retained its star power from the 2021 campaign.
View this post on Instagram
Wilson has been the biggest star for Las Vegas this season. She won Rookie of the Year honors in 2018 after being the first overall pick in the draft and has continued to grow every year, winning MVP for the second in her career this season. Of course, Plum was the team’s leading scorer from the point guard position during the regular season. She was the top overall pick one year before Wilson but has finally blossomed into a star this year. Plum won Sixth Woman of the Year honors last year and was named an all-star for the first time this season. Likewise, Young was also an all-star this year and won the WNBA’s most-improved player award after transitioning from the bench to a starting role.
During the regular season, the Aces tied with Chicago for the best record in the league at 26-10. Yet, Las Vegas has somehow kicked it into a higher gear in the playoffs, going 5-1 over the first two series. Surprisingly, Gray has been leading the team in scoring in three of those six playoff games. She also combined for 22 assists in the Game 3 and 4 wins over Seattle in the semifinals. The Storm gave the Aces a proper challenge in the semifinals, with all four games being decided by five points or less. But that should have Vegas prepared for another tight series in the finals.
Connecticut Sun Outlook
The Sun will be going for the first WNBA championship in franchise history. Connecticut reached the finals in 2019 but fell in five games. But long-time coach Curt Miller has guided the Sun back to the finals. Miller and core players like Jonquel Jones, Brionna Jones, and Alyssa Thomas have been together for several years, slowly building toward a championship.
Jonquel and Brionna Jones (no relation) have been the biggest keys to Connecticut’s success this season. Jonquel won league MVP honors in 2021 and has become a perennial all-star, while Brionna is the team’s second-leading scorer despite coming off the bench most games. Meanwhile, Thomas is the straw that stirs the drink at the point guard position, averaging 13.4 points and 6.1 assists this season. DeWanna Bonner, Courtney Willilams, and Natasha Hiedeman also average at least nine points per game, giving the Sun a balanced attack.
The Sun finished third in the WNBA during the regular season, just one game behind Las Vegas and Chicago. After beating Dallas in the first round of the playoffs, Connecticut overcame a 2-1 series deficit and a double-digit deficit in Game 5 against Chicago to win the semifinals. That victory gives the Sun a world of momentum and confidence heading into the WNBA Finals.
While the Sun has the momentum, the Aces are the better team in this matchup. Las Vegas has a bit more star power with Wilson and Plum and have been far more impressive during the playoffs. With the home-court advantage in the finals – and a sold-out crowd backing them, look for Las Vegas to win the WNBA Finals in five games.