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Aces vs storm
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FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs Mercury – Semifinals –  Game 4

Franchise Sports Media

Las Vegas Aces (3-1)  |  Seattle Storm (1-3)

 

Las Vegas Aces punched their ticket to the WNBA Finals Tuesday, as Chelsea Gray became the first player in WNBA history to score 30 or more points and hand out 10 or more assists in a playoff game (31 and 10), and A’ja Wilson added a 23-point, 13-rebound double-double in a 97-92 win over the Seattle Storm. The Aces had to overcome a 42-point effort by Breanna Stewart and 29 points from Jewell Loyd to advance to the Finals for the second time in three seasons.

 

RECAP:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Las Vegas Aces had a chance to redeem themselves from their disappointing semifinal exit a year ago. A Game 4 win on Tuesday night in Seattle was all they needed, and it’s what they earned.

The Aces were late to the party, though. In a true “do or die” situation for Seattle, the Storm came out of the gates with their heads on fire. Tina Charles and Gabby Williams were everywhere — attacking the offensive glass and being disruptive for 94 feet — while the Aces were a step slow. Seattle‘s lead grew to as many as nine points in the early going, which could have been more if it weren’t for Kelsey Plum‘s first-quarter effort.

Plum, who had struggled mightily with her efficiency throughout Games 1, 2, and 3, converted on four of five shots in a 10-point opening quarter that included some timely shots to halt the Storm‘s momentum. Her early contributions allowed her teammates to show up in time to weather a tremendous storm by Seattle‘s Breanna Stewart, who made five of five 3-pointers en route to a WNBA record 26 first-half points.

 

Aces vs Storm
Photo Credit: Lindsey Wasson/AP

Yet, Stewie‘s ridiculous display of shotmaking alongside Jewell Loyd‘s 12 points at the break somehow left Seattle in front by only three points. As a result, the door was left cracked open for the Aces to squeak through.

The door flung wide open after the Storm missed its first ten shots of the second half. As expected, Vegas darted through. Chelsea Gray and A’ja Wilson led the charge, scoring 16 of the team’s 22 points during the quarter to build the Aces‘ lead to seven heading into the final 10 minutes of the game.

But it’s Sue Bird. It’s Breanna Stewart. It’s Seattle basketball — the Storm wasn’t going to ride off into the sunset willingly. A Bird three to begin the final frame, followed by a Stephanie Talbot bucket, trimmed the gap to two points, and from there, another classic fourth quarter ensued. Loyd and Stewart did it all for Seattle, while Jackie Young and Wilson delivered for Vegas time and time again. But no matter what the Storm did late in the game, there was just too much Chelsea Gray when it mattered most — a story of the entire series.

The Aces would end up dealing Sue Bird and the Storm one final blow to its era, with a 97-92 win to advance to the WNBA Finals.

 

NOTES:

  • A’ja going the distance.

 

When players say they’re willing to do whatever it takes to win, they have to be ready for anything — including playing every minute of the game without a break. Wilson went the distance in Game 3 and then did it again in Game 4. In total, the MVP finalist rested just four minutes of the entire four-game series yet managed to play some of the best basketball of her career. A’ja averaged 24.5 points, 12.3 rebounds, one steal, and 2.5 blocks in 40.3 minutes per game for the series. She’ll get a well-deserved rest ahead of the Finals.

 

  • Loyd and Stewart go off but don’t get help.

Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd combined to score 71 of the Storm‘s 92 total points, made 23 of the team’s 31 field goals, and nine of the 11 Seattle 3-pointers. Still, their effort wasn’t enough to extend the series. No other Storm player made it to double figures in the scoring department.

 

  • Jackie Young’s huge night

Young had a pretty unproductive series up until the final play of regulation in Game 3. Based on what she did in Game 4, it’s safe to assume that the game-tying bucket must have lifted the monkey off her back. Simply put, the Aces don’t win this game without Young. Along with Chelsea Gray, she made every timely play and was cool under pressure down the stretch. Young finished with 18 points, five assists, and three 3-pointers.

 

  • Sue’s exit

A Game 4 loss meant the end of the road for Sue Bird. The veteran will go down as the WNBA‘s greatest point guard ever, and she’ll walk away from the game with four championships.

The league won’t be the same without her.

 

TOP PERFORMERS:

 

Chelsea Gray (Aces): 31 PTS, 6 REBS, 10 ASTS, 1 STL, 4/8 3PT

A’ja Wilson (Aces): 23 PTS, 13 REBS, 1 STL, 3 BLKS

Jackie Young (Aces): 18 PTS, 5 REBS, 3/3 3PT

Breanna Stewart (Storm): 42 PTS, 7 REBS, 2 ASTS, 1 STL, 3 BLKS, 6/8 3PT

Jewell Loyd (Storm): 29 PTS, 4 REBS, 3/6 3PT

 

The Las Vegas Aces advance to the WNBA Finals and will await the winner of Chicago-Connecticut. Regardless of the opponent, Game 1 of the Finals will be played at Michelob ULTRA Arena on Sunday, September 11th, at noon PST. Stay tuned for more info.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

Follow Cole on Twitter @ColeHoops

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Photography by TQ for Franchise Sports Media