September 11, 2022
Daily Briefing — Sept. 11, 2022: FINAL COUNTDOWN — Aces, Sun get ready for WNBA Finals
Plus: Seeing a first-time champ? More likely than you think.
Happy Sunday! Welcome to The Next’s Daily Briefing featuring the daily Watch List. Day 12 of the WNBA post-season has arrived, bringing with it Game 1 of the Finals. There are few things to be certain of in today’s matinée match-up featuring the Las Vegas Aces and the Connecticut Sun. But we can be sure that, by the end of this series, one team will be receiving their first WNBA title. Of the 18 total franchises in WNBA history, only nine have championships to their name, while more than half of the franchises that have won titles have won at least three. In the league’s history, it’s been overwhelmingly more likely for the Finals to feature at least one former champion than not, despite nine franchises having never clinched a title.
There have been six Finals matchups, including the league’s first year, that featured two teams who had yet to win it all. The Connecticut Sun have played in half of them, and have lost to more first-time champions in the Finals than any other team. In fact, in the Finals, the Sun have exclusively lost to first-time champions. Should they lose to the Aces this year, that streak would continue.
The Sun were there in 2004, when the Seattle Storm picked up the first of what would become four championships. Then, in 2005, they returned to the finals against the Sacramento Monarchs, who would eventually grab the city of Sacramento’s first basketball championship since 1951. And then, in all too familiar fashion, Connecticut was on the floor against the 2019 Washington Mystics (never a recipe for success, so I’ve heard.) Now, the Sun are up against the Aces, who had the 2020 Seattle Storm on their hands the last time they were in the Finals.
The value of a first championship is indescribable — while I can’t get you the images here for fear of copyright law, the closest you can come to it is looking at photos from the 2004 Seattle Storm championship. While the joy is there in the moment, a first title cements a franchise’s spot in the legacy of the league, their city, and their players. For the Aces, it would be a hot start for a franchise which has already seen three iterations. For Connecticut, it would be a long time coming in more ways than one.
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Users can sign up to join our Playback for free and watch along with a cable or streaming login. New York Liberty beat writer Jackie Powell takes you through the 2022 New York Liberty season, breaking down Xs and Os, the biggest games, and the outlook for 2023 in returning players and free agency.
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Oct. 27, Nov. 10, Dec. 1, Dec. 15 and Dec. 29 (All streams at 7:30 p.m. ET)
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Then, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame enshrinement Class of 2022, which included Swin Cash, Lindsay Whalen, Theresa Shank Grentz and Marianne Stanley, was inducted on Saturday night. The good folks at Across the Timeline have gathered all of the acceptance speeches into one place, should you decide to give them a listen (forewarning, I cried during almost all of them).
Finally, after high demand, I put together a bingo board for the Finals. There may be at least one more depending on how many games we go to, but for now, enjoy!
- Our Matthew Walter previews the upcoming WNBA finals series between the Aces and Sun, and the keys to winning a championship for Las Vegas.
- Our Hayden Cilley walks through Diamond DeShields’ experience of Team USA training camp for the 2022 World Cup and the changes she’s already making to her game.
- Our Jenn Hatfield details Mystics big Myisha Hines-Allen knee injury, her road to recovery and potential off-season implications.
- Basketball News’ Nekias Duncan breaks down the film and previews the Finals series.
- Yahoo Sports’ Cassandra Negley brings you back to the glory days of Lindsay Whalen and the Minnesota Lynx, as Whalen is inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
- Need more Swin Cash in your life? Of course you do. In that case, I strongly recommend going through the Pelicans’ Twitter feed from the last week. It is a masterclass in recognizing your greats.
Watch list, Sunday, Sept. 11 — Finals
(All times in Eastern)
Connecticut @ Las Vegas, 3 p.m., ABC, TSN
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Written by Isabel Rodrigues
Isabel Rodrigues (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Next from upstate New York who regularly covers 3x3 and the state of women's basketball in the U.S. and internationally. She also covers women's sports for The Daily Princetonian, the independent student newspaper of Princeton University.