October 12, 2023 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: 2023 WNBA Finals: Las Vegas Aces are on the brink of history

Howard highlights Game 2 of the WNBA Finals, the Aces guards dominating in the finals, A'ja Wilson's performance and Kiah Stokes's vital role with the Aces

It’s time for another Locked on Women’s Basketball podcast episode. Host Howard Megdal checks in after speaking to both the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty following Las Vegas’ Game 2 win, 104-76, putting the Aces just one win from a repeat WNBA title. What did Becky Hammon have to say about her team’s ability to play with a short bench? How does A’ja Wilson and company rise to the moment when it matters most? And what can Sandy Brondello do to unlock the offensive power of Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot? All this and more in a rapid reaction podcast.

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Howard talks about Las Vegas Aces 2023 WNBA Finals performance:

“The place to start is really with A’ja Wilson. And so we have to talk about the ways in which she dominated last night. So, let’s start with the basics. What she did 26 points 15 rebounds this is in a WNBA Finals game. She’s doing it, though, again, with the model of efficiency. She’s 10 for 16 from the field, she was finishing at the rim, she was finishing her mid range. She hit a three early on something that was important to her name, frankly, dating back to the South Carolina years and something that I remember Dawn Staley talking about is she needed to add to her game not to be someone taking eight, nine threes a game, but somebody who was consistently lethal from all three levels.

That’s what she is as a player right now. Again, though, it’s hard to separate what she did from what her teammates did and Jackie Young out there again. Jackie got three fouls in the first half; she finished with three fouls for the game, stayed out of foul trouble defended 24 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, right? You see what Kelsey Plum did 23 points again, on 14 shot attempts, five of eight from three she dishes out eight assists and 31 assists on 37 made field goals. And, of course, the leader in that stat Chelsea Gray, somehow only 14 points, which is hard to believe when you think about when and how she got those points. I mean, on at least three occasions, made baskets after the Liberty had defended well for almost the entirety of the shot clock.”

Howard talks about Kiah Stokes‘s performance in the 2023 WNBA Finals and the important role she has with the Aces:

“So it was on to Vegas where Kiah Stokes has this more limited role, but a vitally important one. And so to see Kiah Stokes in a finals game, no less hit those two early threes that if you’re the Liberty and Sandy Brondello mentioned it in the postgame and you’re trying to stop them any way you can and A’ja is getting hers and Jackie is getting hers. And Chelsea is hitting contested shots at the buzzer. And then Kiah Stokes comes in and hits a couple of threes.

It just felt like the Las Vegas Aces were delivering a message that wasn’t going to be New York tonight. Kiah knows her role. Kiah doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone. Her teammates love her and have loved her everywhere she’s gone. It is not a coincidence that Kiah Stokes has a chance to play for another championship on Sunday afternoon in New York. It is about seven stops on the subway from where she played her very first WNBA game back in 2015 in Madison Square Garden. But she has never stopped working. She has a chance on Sunday to turn around and say I’ve got two rings after winning in college.”

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