Good morning. WE’VE GOT A GAME 5!
The No. 1 Las Vegas Aces and No. 7 Connecticut Sun are playing a winner-take-all game TONIGHT at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The winner will play the No. 2 Seattle Storm — who swept the No. 4 Minnesota Lynx — in the Finals.
If you enjoyed the first two round of single-elimination playoff games,,,,,,, welcome back!
This series has had literally everything from Alyssa Thomas dislocating her shoulder and then dominating with 23 points, 12 rebounds and four assists in a win 48 hours later, to MVP A’ja Wilson wrecking shit for 29 points, including two and-ones in the final two minutes of a game to win, to Jasmine Thomas going off for a career-high 31 points, to Angel McCoughtry playing a full 33 minutes and scoring 29 points.
I’M READY FOR MORE.
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Ok, now let’s talk about all the reasons to be hype.
The Sun weren’t expected to make it this far
This Sun team is a lot different than the one that took the Mystics to a five-game Finals series last year. Most notably Jonquel Jones, second runner-up for MVP last year, sat the season due to the pandemic, starting guard Courtney Williams left the team via trade, and starting wing Shekinna Stricklen left via free agency. Yes, Connecticut added one of the league’s best scorers, DeWanna Bonner, via trade, but without much practice time, and missing so many pieces, the Sun weren’t expected to contend.
And they didn’t for most of the season!
The Sun started a 22-game season by losing five straight games. Hell, the team finished with a sub-.500 record (10-12), and had to play in two single-elimination games just to advance! Now they’re 40 minutes from the Finals!
The Aces also weren’t expected to make it this far
Las Vegas is missing two of its best players this year, which was supposed to slow down their rapid rebuild. Liz Cambage, their second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, and Kelsey Plum, the team’s breakout point guard last year, both aren’t with the team.
Yet, they’ve taken off. The Aces finished tied for the best record in the league, and won the tie-breaker with Seattle for the top-seed. Third-year forward A’ja Wilson won MVP, Angel McCoughtry, in her first year playing after missing the 2018 playoffs and entire 2019 season due to knee injuries, played like an All-Star, and Bill Laimbeer finished second for Coach of the Year. Before this season started, most had the Mercury or Sparks as the Storm’s biggest threat. Now, it’s Vegas.
The Aces have a chance to prove that three-pointers are overrated
As Mike Prada pointed out in his FiveThirtyEight piece, the Aces are historically allergic to shooting three-pointers. In the regular season, they took just 11.6 per game, more than five less than the next-lowest team. That’s WILD! As basketball’s grown in the modern era, teams are having their players shoot MORE threes. The W’s last two champions took the MOST threes per game of all teams. The rebuilding Liberty have their ENTIRE offense planned around shooting three-point shots. Vegas might be the only pro team left in America fixated on bully-ball in the paint — and they’re shooting an even fewer 10.3 per game in the playoffs!
The Sun have a chance to prove that shoulders are overrated
Shoulders are actually big trash according to Alyssa Thomas I guess???? Yes, she’s playing with two torn labra, and she dislocated her shoulder last week. Yes, she still might be the best defender in the series despite it all. No, it doesn’t make any sense.
Who needs shoulders?
This could be A’ja Wilson’s year
Wilson was dominant in her first WNBA season, and she rewarded with the Rookie of the Year award, and a spot in the All-Star game. But her second year wasn’t as strong, as she and Cambage struggled to play well in the same lineup.
Year Three has been Wilson’s year so far, though. She scored 20.5 points per game, grabbed 8.5 rebounds, and was one of the league’s elite defenders. Leading her team to the Finals would be a HUGE next step in her development. She’s only 24 years old!
This could be DeWanna Bonner’s chance to prove she can be a great team’s top scoring option
In her 10 seasons prior to 2020, Bonner’s never been a team’s top scoring option. With the Mercury, Bonner was a complementary piece of the team’s offense next to Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner, winning three Sixth Woman of the Year awards. She won two championships, too.
But a third ring while leading the Sun (19.7 points per game) would have a totally different feel. This is Bonner’s offense.
Two of the last three games have been CLOSE
Game 1 was a 25-point Sun blowout, but the next two games came down to the final minutes. Game 2 was tied with a minute and 18 seconds left, and Game 3 was a one-possession game with a minute and 48 seconds left. Even Game 4 was a three- or four-possession game for the entire fourth quarter.
Game 5 has the potential to go down to the buzzer.
IT’S WIN OR GO HOME
Lol folks what else do you want? It’s win or pack tf up. These are the games we’ll remember years from now.
Let’s talk DraftKings
Note: There is only one game tonight, so the rules have changed. One player of your choosing costs 1.5 times her usual salary, and 1.5 times her fantasy points are calculated. I’ll note who I think you should pick for this. Hint: it’s Alyssa Thomas.
Guards to pick
Danielle Robinson, Las Vegas Aces ($8,000) - With Dearica Hamby out, the Aces really tightened up their depth chart in Game 4. Robinson played 36 minutes, and scored 34.75 fantasy points. She’s likely to play big minutes again.
Kayla McBride, Las Vegas Aces ($6,800) - This is a risky pick, but I still believe McBride is due for a breakout. She hasn’t scored more than 18.5 fantasy points in a game this series, but she’s the best player at this low of a price.
Guards to avoid
Jackie Young, Las Vegas Aces ($4,400) - Young has been one of my favorite fantasy picks this season, but Laimbeer only played her 10 minutes in Game 4. Chances are she’ll play limited minutes again as long as McCoughtry can play for extended time.
Forwards to pick
A’ja Wilson, Las Vegas Aces ($12,600) - Yes, I think you should pick the MVP who has scored 45 or more fantasy points in her last three games. Her price is too high to choose as your 1.5 times player, though.
Alyssa Thomas, Connecticut Sun ($14,700) - Thomas didn’t play as well, scoring just 28 fantasy points in Game 4, but I’d take that game as an outlier from what she’s able to do — even with the shoulder injury. She could go the full 40 minutes tonight, and this is great value to make her your 1.5 times player.
Brionna Jones, Connecticut Sun ($7,400) - This is really good value for what Jones can produce. She scored 36 fantasy points in Game 3, though she scored 20.5 and 23 in Games 2 and 4. Her minutes have gone up as the series has progressed, though.
Forwards to avoid
Angel McCoughtry, Las Vegas Aces ($10,600) - McCoughtry was unbelievable in Game 4, carrying the Aces at times in a must-win. But she played more than 30 minutes (33) for the first time this season. Will she be able to do that again while playing at that high of a level? Maybe! But I’d rather be safer with my big-money pick.
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