Shot by Kyla LaCoste. Directed by Trisha LaCoste

FSM Essential Recap: Aces vs Mercury – Semifinals –  Game 2

Franchise Sports Media

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


Las Vegas Aces rebounded from an opening-game loss to even the series at 1 on Wednesday night. A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray led the way for the Aces.



Aces vs Storm
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

On paper, the WNBA semifinal series between the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm is precisely that – a battle of two upper-echelon teams. But rooted in the Aces-Storm matchup is the battle between A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart, an MVP duel that undoubtedly makes the Seattle-Vegas series what it is. With superstars of that magnitude, the outcomes of the games can be as simple as this: Which player carried her team? And which player made the timely plays? More often than not, the individual whose performance better answers those questions is the one who led her team to victory. In Game 1, that player was very clearly Breanna Stewart.

As Wilson was totally outplayed on Saturday, Wednesday’s Part 2 of the series had to be different for her. She couldn’t be underwhelming again, she couldn’t get outplayed by Stewart again, and most importantly, she couldn’t allow her Aces to fall into an 0-2 hole, losing both at the house.

And A’ja knew it.

From the moment the ball escaped the referee’s hands at center court, we saw a different A’ja Wilson.


Aces vs Storm
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media

I was just locked in,” said Wilson during the ESPN postgame interview with Holly Rowe following the game. “I have to be locked in for my team. I can’t come out and be the way that I was before. I gotta always remember who I am.

Sensing the moment, the former 2020 league MVP put forth some of her best stuff in the biggest game of her WNBA career. She fought through double-teams, muscled her way into a dominant offensive performance, made good on her recent Defensive Player of the Year Award on the other end of the court, and had a case for being the best player on the floor Wednesday night.

But it took a lot of production to build that case — 33 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks, to be exact — thanks to a 32-point showing by the 2018 MVP, Breanna Stewart. The two went toe-to-toe and traded haymakers in what will go down as one of the best playoff duels in WNBA history. But, in the end, it was Wilson and the Aces who returned the favor with a 78-73 Game 2 win.



  • Wilson and Loyd reverse roles in Game 2


There were very few differences between Games 1 to 2. However, each team struggled to find offense, the supporting cast of the star players was hardly impactful, and neither coach tapped much into their bench. As a result, Game 2 concluded with another low score. But although there were only a few differences, each difference was monumental in determining the outcome.

Those differences were Seattle‘s Jewell Loyd and Las Vegas’ A’ja Wilson doing complete 180’s from the series opener to Wednesday’s second contest.

Fresh off of a 26-point masterclass, Loyd followed her Game 1 performance with an uncharacteristically quiet one. She struggled from beginning to end, failing to contribute much of anything on the offensive end of the court. Her 2-10 shooting left her with only eight points for a Storm offense that could’ve benefitted from a little bit more.

A’ja Wilson looked like a different player, as well. After a forgettable opening semifinal game that resulted in just eight points, Wilson played on Wednesday like the MVP finalist she is. The Aces needed all 33 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks from her to even up the series. 


  • Defenses stingy again


It was easy following Saturday’s grind-it-out game to conclude that both teams’ offenses merely had rough nights. But with another low-scoring and inefficient game, the growing sample size might start to tip the scales from bad offense to good defense. For the second-straight game, the league’s two best 3-point shooting teams shot poor percentages and were capped at six or fewer makes. Each unit also finished in the 70s for the second time in as many games, as the slow pace has the offenses bogged down.

It’ll be interesting to see if either Las Vegas or Seattle can figure out how to crack the other’s defense in the lead-up to Game 3.


Aces vs Storm
Photo Credit: TQ/Franchise Sports Media
  • Chelsea Gray stays in rhythm.

There isn’t much new to say about what we’re witnessing from Chelsea Gray. Yet, each time she takes the floor, she seems to outdo herself. With her defensive brilliance and a 19-point, 7-rebound, 7-assist game on Wednesday, she’s thoroughly cementing her spot as one of the W’s top big-moment performers.




Chelsea Gray (Aces): 19 PTS, 7 REBS, 7 ASTS, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 3/5 3PT

A’ja Wilson (Aces): 33 PTS, 13 REBS, 3 BLKS

Tina Charles (Storm): 17 PTS, 9 REBS

Breanna Stewart (Storm): 32 PTS, 7 REBS, 3 ASTS, 3 BLK, 3/7 3PT


Game 3 of Aces-Storm will take place at Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle on Sunday, September 4th, at noon PST. ABC will have the broadcast.

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-Cole Huff– Franchise Sports Media

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Photography by TQ for Franchise Sports Media