May 22, 2022 

Daily Briefing — May 22, 2022: Cheer and gloating in Las Vegas

The Plum Diary, if you will

Happy Sunday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing, featuring the W Roundup, daily Watch List, and Yesterday’s Recap. Day 14 of the WNBA season is here, following Las Vegas once again pummeling a hapless opponent into submission. After seven games, the Aces sit 6-1 and the favorites for the Western Conference’s bid to the Commissioner’s Cup. Not only is this just the second time they’ve started 6-1, but it’s the ninth-best seven-game streak the franchise has ever had.

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Becky Hammon’s squad isn’t just blowing out everyone in its path — with the exception of Washington, when Las Vegas was poorly rested after flight issues. Every starter has seen their play skyrocket in the new system:

  • A’ja Wilson has improved her true-shooting by 7.2%, her three-point rate by 10%, her free-throw attempt rate by 15% and increased her points per scoring attempt by 13.3%
  • Kelsey Plum has improved her three-point rate by 9% and her assist rate by 4.4%
  • Jackie Young has improved her true-shooting by 11.4%, her three-point rate by 27%, her assist rate by 2.2%, her free-throw attempt rate by 1.7 and increased her points per scoring attempt by 19.4%
  • Chelsea Gray has improved her true-shooting by 1.9%, her three-point rate by 3%, her assist rate by 2.8% and her free-throw attempt rate by 9%
  • Dearica Hamby has improved her true-shooting by 6.8%, her three-point rate by 4% and increased her points per scoring attempt by 13.3%

Seems good.

But first, read:

W Roundup

New York: Signed point guard Crystal Dangerfield to a hardship contract.

Watch List, Sunday, May 22

(All times in Eastern, Game Of The Day in bold)

Connecticut @ Indiana, 2 p.m., ESPN+ (Local: NESN+/Indiana Fever Livestream)

Chicago @ Washington, 3 p.m., ABC

Saturday, May 21 recap

Las Vegas beat Phoenix, 100-80. The Mercury led 21-13 in the late first quarter, then lost the next 19 minutes 60-33; the Aces scored a franchise-record 39 points in the third quarter. Vegas shot 6.5% better from the field and had 10 more free-throws; the Aces notched 10 steals, part of 15 Phoenix turnovers; the teams combined for 47 fouls.

Point guard Kelsey Plum led Vegas with a season-high 24 points on 8-for-15 from the field, 3-for-6 from three, and 5-for-7 from the line, five rebounds, and three assists against three turnovers; wing Jackie Young had 20 points on 6-for-13 shooting (1-4 3pt., 7-7 FT), three rebounds, five assists, and three steals; point guard Chelsea Gray notched 13 points on 5-for-11 FG (0-2 3pt.), three rebounds, five assists, and four steals in 27 minutes; backup big Theresa Plaisance recorded season-highs in points and rebounds with 11 points on 3-for-7 from three (1-1 from two) and nine boards without a turnover in 19 minutes.

The Mercury were led by wing Diamond DeShields’ 19 points on 8-for-15 shooting (2-5 3pt.) and two assists against three turnovers and four fouls in 30 minutes — she’s shot 50% over the past two games after shooting 37.8% across her first three in Phoenix; combo guard Diana Taurasi and center Tina Charles struggled to a combined 23 points on 8-for-29 from the field and 2-for-14 from three (Taurasi 5-6 FT), six turnovers, and seven fouls, with Taurasi adding seven assists and Charles seven rebounds and three assists. Combo guard Skylar Diggins-Smith missed her second-straight game with a non-COVID illness.

Dallas beat Minnesota, 94-78. The game was within one possession for most of the first 2.5 quarters, then the Wings went on a 14-1 run in the late third. Dallas took 16 more threes and won the rebounding battle by 15, including 15 offensive boards; the Lynx assisted on 20 of their 27 buckets; the Wings committed 26 fouls.

Dallas was led by off-ball guard Arike Ogunbowale’s 20 points on 8-for-18 from the field and 2-for-10 from three and season-high seven assists in 29 minutes; wing Marina Mabrey had a season-high 22 points on 9-for-14 shooting (3-5 3pt.), five rebounds (three offensive), and three assists against five turnovers; big wing Satou Sabally made her season-debut, scoring 11 points on 4-for-11 FG (0-4 3pt.) with five rebounds against three turnovers and five fouls in 19 minutes off the bench.

TDB Dallas center minutes distribution watch: Isabelle Harrison, 21:42; Charli Collier, 11; Teaira McCowan, 6; Satou Sabally, 1:18; Awak Kuier, 0:12.

Center Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 14 points on 6-for-9 FG, nine rebounds, two assists, three steals, and four blocks against four turnovers; combo forward Jessica Shepard had 14 points on 5-for-7 shooting, three rebounds, and two assists; off-ball guard Aerial Powers notched 12 points on 5-for-11 from the field (1-2 3pt.), four rebounds, and two assists against two turnovers and four fouls in 27 minutes.

Written by Em Adler

Em Adler (she/they) covers the WNBA at large and college basketball for The Next, with a focus on player development and the game behind the game.

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