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Preview: Red-hot Kelsey Plum leads Las Vegas Aces against Phoenix Mercury

Fresh off a career-best scoring performance, Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum leads the defending champs into a matchup with the Phoenix Mercury, who are trying to establish some momentum in what has been a disappointing 2023 season thus far.

Las Vegas Aces v Dallas Wings
Kelsey Plum has been playing outstanding basketball for the Aces, having recently scored a career-high 40 points in a game.
Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images

The reigning WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces (17-2) will host the Phoenix Mercury (4-14) in a Commissioner’s Cup matchup on Tuesday. Tip-off is scheduled for 10 p.m. ET, and the game will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network.

The Aces have once again been the league’s best team, fueled by an offense that regularly gets All-WNBA-level contributions from several positions. Last Sunday, it was guard Kelsey Plum’s turn to go off. She scored a career-high 40 points on remarkably efficient 14-of-18 shooting from the field against the Minnesota Lynx. Those 40 points were also an Aces franchise record, and were the latest highlight in what has been an outstanding title defense for Las Vegas.

Plum and the Aces are now faced with a golden opportunity to continue that momentum against a Mercury team that is looking to establish any sort of consistency at all. Phoenix hasn’t gone on a single winning streak all season, and though the Mercury won their last game against the incredibly short-handed Los Angeles Sparks, they still sit at the bottom of the WNBA standings — surely a disappointment for a franchise that had been running on a high with the return of superstar center Brittney Griner.

Griner, to her credit, has been excellent, averaging 19.9 points per game on a career-high 60.3 percent shooting from the field, and she’ll be due for a big game against Las Vegas, with Aces center and former Defensive Player of the Year Candace Parker nursing an ankle injury. The Mercury will need more than just Griner in order to pull off the upset, however; Diana Taurasi has been inconsistent in her age 41 season, only recently scoring 20 or more points in back-to-back games for the first time in 2023. This used to be a common occurrence, but the Mercury now need more than their aging centerpiece in order to win games, and as their record shows, they haven’t done a great job of that.

In Tuesday’s other game, the Seattle Storm (4-14) will take on the Washington Mystics (10-8) at 7 p.m. ET. It’s expected to be the season debut for Storm forward Gabby Williams, who re-signed with Seattle recently after fulfilling her commitments to the French national team. The Mystics will be without star forward Elena Delle Donne, who will miss the next two weeks with an ankle sprain.

Game information

Seattle Storm (4-14) vs. Washington Mystics (10-8)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington, D.C.

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBC Sports Washington, Monumental Sports, FOX 13+, Amazon Prime Video (Seattle)

Storm injury report: Jewell Loyd (probable; ankle)

Mystics injury report: Natasha Cloud (probable; right ankle sprain), Elena Delle Donne (out; left ankle sprain), Shakira Austin (out; left hip strain), Kristi Toliver (out; right plantar fasciitis)

Phoenix Mercury (4-14) vs. Las Vegas Aces (17-2)

When: 10 p.m. ET

Where: Michelob ULTRA Arena in Las Vegas, NV

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, Silver State Sports & Entertainment Network, AZ Family Sports Network 44, Mercury Live (Livestream)

Mercury injury report: Skylar Diggins-Smith (out; maternity leave)

Aces injury report: Candace Parker (out; ankle), Riquna Williams (out; back)