WNBA Finals Preview: Strength vs. Strength

As soon as Breanna Stewart signed with the Liberty, just about every WNBA analyst and fan penciled in New York vs. Las Vegas for their 2023 Finals predictions. Months later, those became true.

The top-seeded Aces swept the Sky and Wings to land in the Finals for the second straight year, while the Liberty took down Washington and Connecticut to set up the anticipated showdown.

The Liberty are seeking the first title in franchise history, while Las Vegas is looking for its second in as many years. Who will take the trophy? It comes down to strength vs. strength.

Led by two-time Defensive Player of the Year A’ja Wilson, the Aces boast a top-notch unit of stoppers. The group allowed just 80.3 points per game in 2023 (second fewest in the league), which helped the team cruise to an impressive 34-6 record.

That unit will be tested by New York’s outstanding offense. In fact, it already has been tested. In one of four regular-season tilts between the Aces and Liberty (they split 2-2), New York erupted for 99 points in a blowout win on Aug. 6.

New York is powered by Stewart but also boasts a deep collection of talented scorers to complement the league MVP. Over the first two rounds of the playoffs, Betnijah Laney averaged 17.0 points and Jonquel Jones put up 16.5 per game. Sabrina Ionescu is always a threat to hit a triple, while Courtney Vandersloot connects the dots as one of the W’s best playmakers.

Of course, the Aces aren’t just a defense-only squad. They won a franchise-record 34 games thanks to a roster chock-full of versatile talent. Wilson is joined by Kelsey Plum, Jackie Young and last year’s Finals MVP, Chelsea Gray.

The squad that ends the 2023 season with the crown will come down to which team can showcase its strength best. Will Stewart be able to keep her status as a nightly 20-plus scorer? Will the rest of New York’s incredible offense keep it rolling on the biggest stage? Or will Wilson and the Aces put a cap on those high-scoring plans?

No matter which side emerges victorious, the series is sure to be full of entertaining hoops. Game 1 is set to tip off on Sunday, October 8th.

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