At the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Brittney Griner provided us Gold-Medal Griner, scoring a record 30 points in the gold medal video game in order seal a seventh-straight gold for Team U.S.A..
In the semifinals series in between the No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces and No. 6 seed Phoenix Mercury, Griner has actually raised her video game to an even greater level. Through 3 video games, she has actually balanced 22.3 points on nearly 61 percent shooting from the field, while likewise contributing 8.3 rebounds, 5 helps and 2 blocks per video game.
However, Griner’s effect has actually surpassed her statistics. She has actually been an unstoppable force, however in a cool, nearly casual, way, unbothered by double groups as she has actually dimed up colleagues or scored over 2 protectors.
If the Aces cannot fix and slow Griner, they will be going house after Game 4, which pointers off in Footprint Center in Phoenix on Wednesday night at 10 p.m. ET (ESPN).
What can the Aces do to guarantee that the series go back to Sin City for Game 5? It all starts with their 2 twin-tower stars — A’ja Wilson and Liz Cambage.
A’ja Wilson needs to discover her video game
It has actually been a rough semifinals series for the 2020 MVP.
In Games 1 and 2, Wilson was effective — scoring 15 points and 12 points on 58.3 percent and half shooting, respectively — however she was not regularly associated with the Aces’ offending action. In Game 3, Wilson had 14 basket efforts. Yet, she just transformed 2 of them — helpful for a basket portion of 14.3 percent — on her method to 8 points.
For the routine season, the Aces had the very best offense in the league, with an offending score of 107.1. This leading mark was attained behind elite play from their bigs, which was captained by Wilson and her 18.3 points per video game.
In the playoffs, Vegas’ offending efficiency has actually badly subsided, with their offending score dropping to 99.6. Instead of running things through Wilson, the Vegas guards have actually driven their offending attack. While this technique succeeded in Game 1, as the back court trio of Chelsea Gray, Riquna Willams and Kelsey Plum integrated for 68 points, it has actually been consequently less effective, with Vegas handling just 60 points in Game 3.
Although the length of the Brittney Griner-Brianna Turner tandem plainly has actually troubled Wilson, the Aces require to find out a method to get her going.
Can Vegas get more from Liz Cambage?
Still restoring her conditioning after an August bout with COVID-19, Cambage has actually been restricted to less than 20 minutes per video game, with head coach Bill Laimbeer playing the Aussie in other words 3 to 4 minute stints.
The Aces might utilize more from her, especially on the protective end.
During the routine season, the Vegas had the league’s second-best defense, with a protective score of 96.0. Cambage’s protective score was 91.3, the very best amongst the Aces’ rotational gamers.
In the playoffs, Vegas’ defense has actually not been on point, evidenced by their abysmal 120.5 protective score. It has actually been (rather) much better when 6-foot-8 Cambage is on the court and able to protect Griner in single protection. Although she cannot exclusively fix the Aces’ protective troubles, more court time for Cambage might assist to re-solidify the Vegas defense by requiring Phoenix to orient their attack far from Griner. (Although, possibly opening things up for another Diana Taurasi surge definitely is not the option.)
More Cambage likewise might enhance the Aces’ offense, specifically when Griner is off the court. She can subdue the other members of the Mercury frontcourt for simple pails. With Wilson’s offending battles, Vegas might utilize a big-time efficiency from Cambage.
However, are Cambage and Laimbeer ready to press her limitations in a do-or-die contest?
No. 6 seed Phoenix Mercury (4-1) vs. No. 2 seed Las Vegas Aces (1-2)
When: Wednesday, Oct. 6 at 10 p.m. ET
Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ
How to view: ESPN or TSN4
Key to the match: Although Brittney Griner has actually been fantastic, she is not exclusively accountable for the Mercury’s 2-1 series benefit. Neither is Diana Taurasi, even as she included an amazing 37-point efficiency to her currently renowned postseason resume. Quite merely, the Mercury — up and down their lineup — have actually desired it more. After letting Game 1 escape them, they brought another level of perseverance to Games 2 and 3, having fun with a concentrated fire for the complete 40 minutes in both video games. The Aces, on the other hand, have actually not regularly had fun with playoff-caliber strength. Sometimes, a result of a video game and series is identified by which group simply plays more difficult. If the Mercury can keep that very same energy, they will advance to the WNBA Finals for the very first time because 2014.
Mercury injury report: Sophie Cunningham (doubtful; left calf stress)
Aces injury report: Angel McCoughtry (out for season; right knee)