2022 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup: Aces win over Sky; Chelsea Gray was named Player of the Year

The Las Vegas ace went to Wire for a 93-83 victory over the Chicago Sky in the 2022 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup on Tuesday night. Aces guard Chelsea Gray was named Player of the Game after a performance of 19 points, four rebounds and five assists.

To attract the interest of players and fans, a prize pool of $500,000 has been allocated in this game. Each ace player earned $30,000 for being on the winning team, while each Sky player earned $10,000 for the runner-up. Gray also received an additional $5,000 to win the Most Valuable Player award.

On his first possession of the match, Kelsey Bloom stared into the defense and drained his three-pointer to put his aces ahead. I hit two more over the next few minutes, as the Aces jumped to a solid 13-0 lead that they would never give up. They advanced by 19 points at the end of the first quarter, and advanced to 23 points in the first half.

Team Sky didn’t give up, to their credit, and briefly cut the deficit to single digits at multiple points in the second half. But unlike the previous confrontation between these two teams, when Team Sky completed a 28-point comeback, they couldn’t finish the job. The pots received a response for each run and went on to win 10 points.

A’ja Wilson led the way for the Aces with a dominant performance of 17 points, 17 rebounds and six blocks that looked like he deserved a top player. Instead, the honor went to Gray. Kelsey Bloom, who finished with 24 points and five assists, had a big night for the Aces.

Candice Parker struggled to find her shot early, but had 20 points, 14 rebounds, and four assists in a losing bid for Skye, while Kahlia Cooper and Emma Messman each had 18 points.

Here are some key points from the game:

Aces take revenge, make a statement

The last time these two teams met, the Aces scored a record 41 points in the first quarter and jumped to the dominant position by 28 points. Then they gave it all up, with Sky making the biggest comeback in WNBA history and giving them the Aces’ most embarrassing defeat of the season.

It was clear early on that the aces were intent on getting some revenge. They jumped to a 13-0 lead in under two minutes, and were playing massive card on either side of the ball. And when the sky finally managed to run, the Aces had an answer every time. They weren’t about to let that lead slip by, and they weren’t in real danger of losing the match.

“[I told them] Aces coach Becky Hammon said, “To stay strong defensively and deal with the pressure and keep playing in defense. That game we had in Vegas, they are the champions. They won’t go easy. It won’t be easy. It’s a very good basketball team. They have been very well trained. They understand how to play. They understand what it takes to win.”

“Until tonight, it hasn’t been easy. They’re not going anywhere. I don’t care if we hit 50. They’re not going anywhere. My message to them was just to stay solid in defense, and then deal aggressively with their pressure.”

Although this game didn’t count toward the league standings, the Aces’ performance was also a statement that they were coming for the top seed and the WNBA title. After a thrilling start to the season, aces faltered in the All-Star break as the skies soared to number one and it looked like the team to beat. Not so fast said the ace, who has won five out of six since the first half and beat the sky in their gym. If anyone thinks otherwise, this game has shown that the Aces are a serious competitor.

Wilson dominates but he doesn’t get the best player

When WNBA Commissioner Kathy Engelbert took the microphone during the post-game gala, everyone expected she would declare Aja Wilson the best player in the game. Even eventual winner Chelsea Gray, who was in the background saying “Is that me?” He looked surprised.

But even though she probably didn’t get the trophy or the $5,000 bonus, Wilson was the best player on Earth in the game. She finished with 17 points, 17 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 6 blocks in a dominant two-way performance that showed why she is one of the favorites for the league’s MVP title. There have been only two games of 15 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks in the WNBA this season; Wilson owns both.

Her effort on the defensive end was particularly impressive. She was omnipresent from the start, when she blocked a 3-point attempt by Allie Quigley on Sky’s first possession. Sky fired 40.5 percent of the field and settled on 30 three-pointers in large part because Wilson was shutting down the paint.

“no but [defense is] “It’s a heart decision,” Wilson said. “Defending doesn’t take much. You don’t necessarily have to be talented to play defense. You just have to want it.”

“At the end of the day, I’m going to make sure my teammates know, like I said, that I’m there and we stick. When we’re locked in on the defensive end, as I’ve been saying [Kelsey Plum]This doesn’t just have to be a Commissioner’s Cup match. This might be a thing in every game for us. But it’s just a shift in mentality. So we hope to go on this long journey ahead of us so that we can survive and maintain that mentality.”

Plum hunting with a new cup

Aces guard Kelsey Plum was named All-Star Game MVP earlier this month in the same building. Unfortunately, most of the conversation centered on the embarrassing little trophy the league gave her rather than her performance.

Following Tuesday’s match, commissioner Kathy Engelbert showed her sense of humor by trolling Bloom with a new, smaller trophy. The All-Stars handed a large chest during an aces celebration, and after a brief period of confusion Plum opened it in front of her teammates in plenty of laughter.

“It was funny,” Bloom said. “Honestly, when she gave me the box and opened it, I was thinking it was going to be an important cup, and then it was smaller than the original, which was really like a microscope. She said the other one is in the back of the system, and it’s just—that’s funny, Cathy.”

While the initial snafu is an excellent example of an easy mistake the league shouldn’t have allowed to happen in the first place, this was a pretty funny response from Engelbert.