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Preview: There’s plenty at stake in the final regular-season meeting between the Aces and the Liberty

The Las Vegas Aces currently lead the season series with the New York Liberty, 2-1. New York will get the opportunity to even things up and creep closer to the Aces in the standings in their final regular-season meeting.

New York Liberty v Las Vegas Aces
Chelsea Gray (right) recorded a triple-double the last time the Aces and Liberty met.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The defending WNBA champion Las Vegas Aces (30-5) will take on the New York Liberty (27-7) for the final time in the 2023 regular season this Monday, Aug. 28. With just a handful of games remaining on the schedule, the game will be of utmost importance to both teams. It will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2, with tipoff scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

As things currently stand, the Aces hold a 2.5-game lead over the Liberty for the WNBA’s No. 1 overall playoff seed, and the season series between the two teams favors Las Vegas, two wins to one.

It should go without saying, then, that if the Liberty still see that No. 1 seed as an attainable goal, Monday’s game is of the “must-win” variety. New York is perhaps the hottest team in the WNBA, having won nine of its last ten games—the one loss coming to Las Vegas on Aug. 17. They most recently defeated the Minnesota Lynx 111-76, a game in which the Liberty led by as many as 43 points.

New York Liberty v Las Vegas Aces
The New York Liberty can even their season series with the Las Vegas Aces with a win on Monday.
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

The Aces, meanwhile, have run into a bit of a rough patch. This is, of course, only relative; Las Vegas went 4-0 in May, 10-1 in June and 9-1 in July while putting up historic offensive numbers. A bit of regression was to be expected, even for one of the best teams the WNBA has ever seen.

That’s not to say the Aces’ recent losses to the Los Angeles Sparks and Washington Mystics weren’t unexpected. And with Las Vegas suddenly appearing mortal, the door is open for the Liberty to make a statement at home. All season long, Las Vegas and New York have been the WNBA’s two best teams, although, save for a surprising Liberty blowout win in early August (as well as their Commissioner’s Cup Championship victory, which does not count in the standings), the Aces have been a step ahead. Not only can New York trim their rival’s lead in the standings with a win, but they also can even the season series at two wins apiece, which could factor into a potential playoff seeding tiebreaker.

Washington Mystics v Las Vegas Aces
A win against New York on Monday could earn Las Vegas forward A’ja Wilson (center) and the rest of the Aces’ starters a break later in the regular season.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

On the other hand, if the Aces emerge victorious, they’ll have more or less put New York in the rearview mirror for good, which would allow them crucial rest and recovery time before the playoffs. Las Vegas leans heavily on its star-studded starting lineup. While the results have been infallible to this point, head coach Becky Hammon recently admitted that her team is playing on tired legs. Should the Aces defeat the Liberty on Monday, they’ll have little else to prove the rest of the way, and Hammon can give them the rest they deserve.

The bottom line: Monday’s matchup features the best the WNBA has to offer, and even though the playoffs were a foregone conclusion for the Aces and Liberty before the regular season even began, there’s still plenty at stake for both teams.

Game information

Las Vegas Aces (30-5) vs New York Liberty (27-7)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.

How to watch: ESPN2

Aces injury report: Candace Parker (out; foot)

Liberty injury report: Marine Johannès (questionable; foot)