Aces steamroll Sky 87-59 in Game 1 of first round

Chicago
By Chicago 4 Min Read

LAS VEGAS — Stealing a playoff game from the top-seeded Aces undoubtedly will be a tall order for the No. 8 Sky.

Game 1 on Wednesday showed just how outmatched the Sky really are against the reigning WNBA champions, who rolled to an 87-59 victory.

The Aces opened the game with a 12-5 burst, and their lead had ballooned to 19 points by the middle of the second quarter. They went into the half ahead 53-36 and coasted through the second half.

The Sky went 6-2 in their last eight regular-season games, anchored by strong performances from their starting backcourt of Kahleah CopperCourtney Williams and Marina Mabrey.

All three elevated their games down the stretch. Mabrey averaged 16.9 points and shot 46% from three-point range in the Sky’s last eight games. Williams’ averages improved to 11.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and seven assists, and Copper finished the regular season averaging 19 points, six rebounds and 3.4 assists.

But the production the Sky needed from their backcourt trio was absent in Game 1. Copper entered the locker room at the half with 13 points, Mabrey with seven and Williams with five.

They all took a seat for good with two minutes left, combining for only 31 points. Copper led the Sky with 15 points.

The Aces, meanwhile, finished with five players in double figures, and MVP candidate A’ja Wilson wasn’t even their leading scorer. Chelsea Gray and Wilson both went to the bench with four minutes left.

Gray finished with a game-high 20 points. Wilson had a quiet night by her standards, scoring 14 points and grabbing eight rebounds.

The Aces will look to complete the first-round sweep with a victory in Game 2 at 2 p.m. Sunday.

Back-to-back

The Aces are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back WNBA titles since the 2001-02 Sparks.

After the Aces finished the regular season with a record-setting 34-6 record, including only one loss at home, coach Becky Hammon said her team isn’t thinking about the history that’s on the line.

‘‘I don’t think you can get ahead of yourself,’’ Hammon said before Game 1 on Wednesday against the Sky. ‘‘If you want any shot at the future, you have to take care of the present.’’

Playoff history

This is only the second time the Sky are playing the Aces in the postseason. Their previous meeting was in a second-round, single-elimination game in 2019 that featured 20 lead changes.

The Sky had a 92-90 lead with less than 10 seconds left when forward Dearica Hamby picked off a bad pass by Courtney Vandersloot and heaved in a Hail Mary shot to put the Aces ahead 93-92 with four seconds to play.

Astou Ndour-Fall got a three-point attempt off in the final seconds, but it was no good, and the Sky were eliminated.

This and that

Hammon gave no update about former Sky star Candace Parkers status, but Parker was on the Aces’ bench for Game 1. She has been rehabbing after having surgery to repair a fractured left foot in July.

• Alanna Smith started Game 1 for the Sky despite suffering an ankle injury in their regular-season finale Sunday.

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