Las Vegas Aces vs Atlanta Dream

The Atlanta Dream Aced the Las Vegas Aces

The Las Vegas Aces were beaten by The Atlanta Dream September 5th at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta Georgia. After a 3 game losing streak, The Dream brought home a sweet W defeating the Aces 78-74.

The Atlanta Dream were on a quest for their first win at home since July 12th versus the Minnesota Lynx. The Aces are contending to land the 1st or 2nd seed in the Western Conference, as the playoffs are approaching. The Aces were favorited to win the competition as their record stood at 20-12 and The Dream record speaks for itself at 8-25.

Both teams met in early August in Las Vegas. The Aces defended the home floor without star Forward Aja Wilson and prevailed, ending the game at 90-94.

Renee Montgomery leads The Dream’s offense without starting players Jessica Breland and Tiffany Hayes, who both did not play due to illness and injury. Center Carolin Swords also did not play due to Head Coach Bill Lambieer’s decision. It was forward Monique Billings’ second start of the season, and her goal was to use her speed and ball movement to get under big women Wilson and Cambage’s skin. First-round draft pick from Notre Dame, Jackie Young, ran the ball for the Aces. The fighting Irish duo, Kayla Macbride and Young, continued to give the Dream hell from down below with Young making consecutive assists to Macbride. At the end of the first quarter, The Dream trailed by five 25-20. Both teams got off to a great start, shooting at 50% in the first quarter.

At the half, both teams were in double digits for rebounds. However, the Aces were out-rebounded by The Dream (24-19) overall. It was The Aces who took advantage of The Dream’s turnovers scoring 12 points on second-chance opportunities. The Las Vegas Aces dominated the paint, showing fans why the team is ranked number one in the league for most points in the paint. The Dream displayed how well they moved the ball, with 12 out of 15 field goals made being assisted.

A narrative that was closely watched was Liz Cambage vs Marie Gulich. In their prior meet, Gulich had a season-high against the Aces in Las Vegas. These two “fe-noms” took their match to the next level, defending each other when they were both on the court. Cambage and Gulich went head to head all night with Gulich knocking down three’s unanswered by the Aces. But Liz Campage was hot from the start, ending the half with 13 points and shooting 6-9 from the field.

It was a Block Party in Atlanta, with the league’s top three leading blockers on the same court. The Dream ended the game with 10 blocks as a team; eight were accounted for by Elizabeth Williams. The Aces with 11 blocks, and MVP and leading shot blocker, Aja Willson, ended the night with seven blocks.

During the second half, the intensity in the game increased. Right out of the gate, The Dream showed their speed and moved the ball well. Closing their first possession of the half with a 3-pointer made by B. Sykes. The Aces answered with back to back layups by Forward Aja Wilson.

Recent articles have expressed that The Aces display an age-old problem of having enough big women but not working as effectively as needed on the court together. The stats prove that when Center Cambage is not on the floor at the same time as Forward Wilson, The Aces score more points. Coach Lambieer is adjusting to this issue by mixing up the rotation. By doing this, big women will remain on the floor at all times so The Aces can continue to bully while keeping the flow of ball movement. This was shown at the start of the second half. Hamby and Wilson were active on the court, and approximately 3 minutes in subbed Hamby out for Cambage. The teams’ chemistry was fluid.

Unfortunately, during the same quarter, Liz Cambage was subbed out at the 7:15-minute mark. Cambage has a previous history with her Achilles. Coach Lambieer knows that even a wince of pain with an Achilles issue is grounds for removal. Cambage sat out and watched her team for the remainder of the game, finishing with 15 points and 3 blocks. Word is not out if she will be playing the final game in Phoenix.

The Aces continued to lead the game, ending the third quarter up by two, 57-55. However, The Aces could not compete with The Dream from the perimeter, leaving them at 1-13 from outside. The Dream began to shoot the lights out, taking a lead with a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the fourth quarter. This was the first Dream lead of the night. Atlanta trailed by as many as 9 during the competition. The Dream pushed the pedal on the D and gassed up the O. Billings got in Aja’s head while inbounding the ball, forcing Aja to throw the ball to the fans which resulted in a turnover. Guard Montgomery expanded the lead for the Dream with a three at the top of the key, leaving the score at 62-68. Rookie Jackie Young checked in late in the game, forcing a foul and making both free throws. Those two points were not enough for the Aces to steal a game on the road. The Atlanta Dream took their victory and played their last game of the regular season. The Dream is looking at the 6th seed. The Aces play their final regular-season game in Arizona against The Phoenix Mercury and are looking to contend in their second playoff season as a franchise.

For Franchise Sports Media, I am Aniea Collins.

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