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WNBA Semifinals Preview: Aces try to even series without Sixth Woman Dearica Hamby

The Connecticut Sun continue to exceed expectations and currently lead the top-seeded Las Vegas Aces 2-1 in their semifinal series. Meanwhile, the Seattle Storm have a commanding 2-0 lead in their series against the Minnesota Lynx. Will we know who will be playing in the 2020 WNBA Finals by the end of the day?

WNBA: Connecticut Sun at Las Vegas Aces
The Las Vegas Aces will be without Dearica Hamby on Sunday. Hamby has been playing with an injured knee and was ruled out shortly before the game.
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 WNBA Semifinals will continue on Sunday, with 2020 MVP A’ja Wilson and the No. 1 Las Vegas Aces finding themselves in a 2-1 series hole against Alyssa Thomas and the seventh-seeded Connecticut Sun. Later in the day, the second-seeded Seattle Storm will try to sweep away the No. 4 Minnesota Lynx, who are down 2-0 in the series despite some hot outside shooting. Both games will be featured on national TV.

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun — Game 4 (CON leads 2-1)

Las Vegas Aces v Connecticut Sun - Game Three
2020 MVP A’ja Wilson has made short work of most of the defenses the Sun have thrown at her, though her Aces trail the series 2-1.
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Aces entered the WNBA postseason as the league’s No. 1 overall seed and went a comfortable 2-0 against Connecticut in the regular season. However, the Sun have given them all they can handle through three semifinal games.

Most recently, the Sun rode a 20-4 fourth-quarter run en route to a 77-68 Game 3 victory. It wasn’t the prettiest offensive showing — neither team cracked 40 percent shooting from the field and they combined to hit just 6-of-25 threes — but Connecticut turned the ball over only four times and got a heroic performance from Thomas, who played nearly 39 minutes after dislocating her shoulder in the previous contest.

Meanwhile, Las Vegas continued to lean on Wilson, but got little production outside of the forward’s 20 points. Though the Aces led the WNBA in both free throw rate and opponents’ free throw rate during the regular season, they managed just 11 free throw attempts in Game 3 and were unable to establish efficient offense elsewhere. In particular, Sixth Woman of the Year Dearica Hamby has been somewhat limited because of a sore knee; she has been ruled out for Sunday’s game.

Seattle Storm vs. Minnesota Lynx — Game 3 (SEA leads 2-0)

Minnesota Lynx v Seattle Storm - Game Two
Jewell Loyd has scored 45 points across two semifinal games for the Storm — both Seattle victories.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

While the Aces and Sun have been battling it out in mostly defense-oriented, slow-paced games, the semifinal series between the Storm and Lynx has thus far been much more free-flowing.

After a series opener that was decided in the final seconds by an Alysha Clark tip-in, Seattle took Game 2 much more comfortably, defeating Minnesota 89-79. The Storm led by as many as 21 points in the game, getting another 20-point effort from guard Jewell Loyd and surviving a barrage of Lynx 3-pointers.

If the Lynx are going to extend the series, such 3-point shooting must continue. Through the series’ first two games, Minnesota has shot a combined 27-of-59 (45.8 percent) from long range, but hasn’t been able to slow down Seattle’s balanced scoring on the other end of the floor. Center and perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidate Sylvia Fowles would certainly help with this but she hasn’t played yet in the series due to a lingering calf injury.

Game Information

All games will be played at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

Las Vegas Aces vs. Connecticut Sun

When: Sunday, Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. ET

How to watch: ESPN, TSN2

Keys to the matchup: Entering the series, a major question for the Sun was whether they could get enough from their supporting cast to complement the play of Thomas and DeWanna Bonner. Through three games, the tables have turned. It’s the Aces who are struggling to find production outside of their main star, Wilson. She’s averaging 22.7 points per game on 55.1 percent shooting in the series, but players like Angel McCoughtry and Hamby — both of whom were excellent in the regular season — haven’t made much noise in either Sun victory. With Hamby ruled out for this game due to a knee injury, Las Vegas will need that much more from McCoughtry against a Connecticut defense that has been stifling.

Aces injury report: Liz Cambage (out, medical exemption); Kelsey Plum (out, Achilles surgery); Dearica Hamby (out, right knee)

Sun injury report: Alyssa Thomas (probable, shoulder); Bria Holmes (out for season, knee)

Seattle Storm vs. Minnesota Lynx

When: Sunday, Sept. 27 at 3 p.m. ET

How to watch: ABC, TSN2

Keys to the matchup: The Lynx actually shot better from 3-point range (46.4 percent) than they did from 2-point range (35.1 percent) in Game 2, and while they’d certainly like the hot shooting from the outside to continue, a more complete effort will be needed if they’re going to force a fourth game. Neither Odyssey Sims nor Crystal Dangerfield have been able to do much with Loyd to this point, and second-year star Napheesa Collier was limited by foul trouble during much of Game 2. While the Storm could stand to get more out of Breanna Stewart (11-of-33 from the field in the series), the team’s relentless defensive pressure and unselfishness with the basketball has them firmly in the driver’s seat.

Lynx injury report: Sylvia Fowles (questionable, calf); Shenise Johnson (doubtful, calf); Lexie Brown (out for season; concussion)