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The Aces Fought Off The Sun To Take Game 1 Of The WNBA Finals

The Las Vegas Aces played host to the Connecticut Sun on Sunday afternoon for Game 1 of the WNBA Finals and early on it looked like Vegas might run away.

A’ja Wilson got busy early on after getting her MVP trophy on the court prior to the game, coming out looking to make a statement against the Sun’s very good frontcourt.

Chelsea Gray also got it going early, knocking down tough buckets as she has all playoffs, and the Aces jumped out to a quick double-digit lead.

However, the Sun had a response, chipping away at the lead, led by Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones, who went to work inside to give the Sun their first lead of the game.

Overall, it was a 21-9 quarter in favor of Connecticut, giving them a four-point edge going into halftime as they were dictating the tempo of the game and bothering the Aces with their swarming defense. The third quarter went to the Aces, who took a two-point lead into the fourth quarter, setting up a tense quarter that featured a lot of defense and only a few timely buckets.

The Aces were able to seize control thanks to Gray and Wilson, as their stars who have led them all postseason stepped up once again down the stretch. First, it was Wilson with the kind of two-way play that earned her the MVP and DPOY honors this season, blocking DeWanna Bonner and then finishing the break on the other end.

With the lead still just four, it was Gray’s turn to go to work, as she continued her sensational shot-making run this postseason with another tough pull-up bucket to put the lead back to six.

The Sun wouldn’t go away, staying within two possessions most of the way, and when the Aces threw a loose pass with under a minute to play, Connecticut pounced on it with Alyssa Thomas taking it in for a layup to cut the lead to three.

Coming out of the timeout, the Aces let Gray go to work, but she didn’t create a good look, coming up well short on a contested three by Thomas, with the Sun snatching the rebound with 13.4 seconds to play, giving Curt Miller a chance to try and draw up a game-tying three. They ultimately got the ball to Bonner, but she was unable to knock down a leaning three as the Aces swarmed her on the perimeter and Vegas held on to take a 1-0 series lead.

It was a rough shooting night for Bonner in particular, who went just 1-of-9 from the field for three points, with the Sun as a team hitting only five threes on 16 attempts. Thomas was terrific for Connecticut with 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and three blocks, but they just didn’t have enough offensive punch in this one down the stretch. The Jones’ played well — 15 points and nine boards for Jonquel and 12 points off the bench for Brionna — but the lack of a consistent perimeter threat doomed the Sun despite their strong defensive effort.

For the Aces, it was the same story as all postseason, with Gray (21 points) and Wilson (24 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks, two steals) doing a bit of everything, and getting just enough help, this time from Jackie Young’s 11 point night, to get the job done. Still, the Aces will want Kelsey Plum to get going, as she was 1-of-9 from the field and 1-of-7 from three, continuing some three-point struggles that are the thing that could be a separator in this series for Vegas. As a team, the Aces were 5-of-24 from deep and against the size of the Sun, that’s an area they figure to need to be better if they’re going to get games to their preferred temp.

Still, it’s a big win for the Aces who proved they can get in the mud and play a physical, slower paced game how the Sun like and still pull out a win, and now are two wins away from their first WNBA championship.