The New York Liberty again showed their top form against the Las Vegas Aces, winning the Commissioner's Cup Championship 82-63.
The @nyliberty are your 2023 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Champions presented by @coinbase— WNBA (@WNBA) August 16, 2023
They defeated the Aces, 82-63 to take the crown for the first time in franchise history ‼️ pic.twitter.com/c6V8UXeBev
It was a rough start, with both teams missing their first six field goals. The Aces led for parts of the first half, but the Liberty closed out the third quarter on a 15-5 run to take control of the game—and the lead—for good.
Jonquel Jones messed around and got not just a double-double but also the Commissioner's Cup MVP, thanks to her 16-point and 15-rebound performance. Breanna Stewart also had a stellar game, scoring 13 points and grabbing seven rebounds. Marine Johannés was huge coming off the bench for the Liberty, hitting five shots from long range on her way to 17 points. The Aces' trio of Kesley Plum, Jackie Young and Chelsea Gray all had double-digit points, but the team struggled offensively, especially in the second half. The Aces only scored 29 points in the third and fourth quarters combined.
If you find this matchup exciting, you won’t have to wait long to see it again; the Aces and Liberty play each other on Thursday in Las Vegas.
It may have ended as a Liberty victory, but it was a back-and-forth affair in the first half. A'ja Wilson finally put the game's first points on the board at the 6:29 minute mark of the first quarter with a pair of free throws. New York held a 17-11 lead after one, thanks to Marine Johannés hitting a pair of 3s off the bench. The Liberty's bench was crucial in the win, outscoring the Aces 23-8.
The Aces' offense finally got going late in the second, closing the half on an 11-0 run. A Jackie Young layup with 29 seconds left gave Las Vegas the two-point advantage entering the halftime break.
Both teams exchanged buckets to start the third, but, midway through the quarter, the Liberty took control for good. Kayla Thornton capped off the 15-5 run to close out the third with back-to-back 3s. New York has the second-best three-point percentage in the league, shooting 38 percent from deep, only behind the Las Vegas’ 38.9 percent from beyond the arc. But that shooting was nowhere to be found from the Aces on Tuesday night as they shot a woeful 5-for-26 from deep, good for only 19.2 percent.
In the final quarter, Ionescu was the closer. She hit two 3s in a row to give New York a double-digit lead; she then swished another at the quarter’s midway point to all but seal Las Vegas’ fate. The Aces emptied the bench at the 2:22 mark and the Liberty took the Commissioner’s Cup Championship from Las Vegas in Las Vegas.
The Liberty are contenders.
Although it still feels like they have to play nearly perfect to keep up with the Aces, that's exactly what they've done in two games now, winning both in dominant fashion. That's no fluke. They've shot the ball well, won at home and away and forced Wilson into tough, low-scoring games, as she managed just nine points in both recent matchups.
With the rematch happening in less than 48 hours, Las Vegas is certain to counter. Still, regardless of the outcome of Thursday's affair, the Liberty have made it clear that the title winner is not a foregone conclusion. Beating New York in a series is going to be tough.