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Game 2 Recap: Las Vegas Aces run New York Liberty out of the gym

The Las Vegas Aces had a historic opening quarter on their way to a 2-0 series lead over the New York Liberty in the WNBA Finals.

2023 WNBA Finals - Game Two
The elation of the Aces’ A’ja Wilson versus the dejection of the Liberty’s Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Game 2 of the WNBA Finals went to the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces as they trounced the No. 2 seed New York Liberty 104-76. The Aces started on a 19-2 run and never looked back, scoring a WNBA Finals-record 38 points in the opening quarter on their way to another win and a 2-0 series lead.

The Aces guards dominated Game 1, and Game 2 was no different. Jackie Young had 24 points on 56.3 percent shooting, Kelsey Plum was right there with 23 points as she went 50 percent from the field and the Point Gawd Chelsea Gray ended the night with 14 points and 11 assists. There weren’t many positives for New York besides Jonquel Jones, who had 22 points and 10 boards.

Las Vegas is now one win away from a Finals sweep, an undefeated playoff run and the WNBA’s first back-to-back titles since 2002.

Key moments

It was over as soon as it started on Wednesday, with Plum quickly hitting a pair of 3s to help the Aces jump to a 6-2 lead. That was just the beginning, as Las Vegas went on a 13-0 run and never trailed in the game. The Liberty did show signs of life in the second quarter, with Jones scoring 16 points to help the Liberty go on a 12-0 run to bring New York within eight at the halftime break.

With the Liberty within striking distance, the Aces relied on their MVP, A’ja Wilson, and she delivered, scoring 10 points in the third. Young also got hot, scoring 11 points in the frame, as the Liberty just haven’t figured out how to slow her down. Sabrina Ionescu has been absolutely dominated in that matchup.

While the Aces’ guards have been sensational, the Liberty’s have been everything but. Betnijah Laney, Courtney Vandersloot and Ionescu went a combined 9-for-34 from the field. That’s just not going to cut it on the road against the defending champs in a Finals game.

The result was a foregone conclusion, with the Aces advantage back up to 23 to start the fourth. Las Vegas again was in cruise control in the closing minutes as New York now has to head home and try to stave off elimination.

Key takeaways

New York has so many things to fix—and so little time to do it. Can Ionescu guard Young? And if not, who can? Will Vandersloot get aggressive and emerge as an offensive threat? The Liberty don’t have enough firepower for only one player to be a facilitator. And speaking of not enough firepower, where is league MVP Breanna Stewart? How about the league’s best 3-point shooter, Ionescu? Can they show up and bring the appropriate energy for Game 3, or should we get the champagne on ice for Sunday?

For the Aces, there are no notes. They have pummeled the Liberty. Until New York gives them a reason to alter something, they just need to keep applying pressure. They not only are one win away from another title, but, with all their historical stats, they also can make a case as the greatest team in WNBA history. But they still are one win away. No team has ever come back down 0-2 in a WNBA Finals to win. But if any team can do it, it’s New York. Vegas will face a raucous New York crowd; if they don’t bring the appropriate focus, they’ll get blown out and the Liberty will be back in the series. We’ll see if that happens on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC.