WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (2024)

The two best teams from the regular season met in Las Vegas as the Aces attempt to go back-to-back.

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (1)WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (2)

Tashan Reed, Sabreena Merchant and Ben Pickman

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (3)

(Photo: Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (4)WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (5)

Ben Pickman

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (8)WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (9)

Aces claim Game 1 over Liberty

Game 1 of the 2023 WNBA Finals went to the Aces, who took it with a 17-point win. Las Vegas' offense was efficient in the second half and scored 53 points, while its defense keyed in on Jonquel Jones, who scored just four second-half points, and New York's backcourt, allowing just 33 points. Jackie Young and Kelsey Plum both score a game-high 26 points for the Aces, which was a playoff career-high for Young. Chelsea Gray and A'ja Wilson added 20 and 19 points, respectively. Stewart led New York with 21 points, but no other player scored more than 16.

Game 2 tips off on Wednesday.

October 8, 2023 at 5:11 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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A first for Breanna Stewart: a playoff loss

This will be the first finals loss of Breanna Stewart's career. She was 6-0 over two series entering Game 1. Alysha Clark, meanwhile, remains a perfect 7-0 in her WNBA Finals career as the Aces are cruising to a victory in Las Vegas.

The Aces have gotten contributions from all over in this one. Young has 26 points, 4 boards and 3 assists. Plum has 26 points and 5 rebounds. Wilson has 19 points, 8 rebounds, 3 blocks and 2 steals. Gray has 15 points, 9 dimes and 6 boards. The Liberty essentially let everyone get their game off in this one.

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October 8, 2023 at 5:05 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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Wilson's firepower makes Liberty comeback unlikely

A'ja Wilson sat to start the fourth quarter, getting one of her only rests of the night, and the Aces managed to extend the lead by four points without her on the court thanks to active hands in the passing lanes and balanced scoring for the starting backcourt. If New York couldn't make a dent with Las Vegas' best player on the bench, the chances of a comeback in the series opener feel very slim.

Wilson has 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Liberty can't slow Aces

The Liberty have been unable to get stops for much of the second half, and they trail by 17 with just under six minutes to play in the game. Yes, New York’s offense has struggled in the second, but it’s their defense which has been unable to slow down any action Las Vegas has run. Young has exploded, and Plum and Wilson have been able to generate easy offense around the basket as well. Perhaps New York has a final push left in them, but it hasn’t put together a notable second-half run yet.

October 8, 2023 at 4:48 PM EDTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (24)WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (25)

Jackie Young on a roll

Behind 12 third quarter points from Young — who's up to a game-high 24 points — the Aces outscored the Liberty 26-16 in the period to surge ahead 72-65. The Aces have been a dominant third-quarter team all year long, and that's only continued.

October 8, 2023 at 4:35 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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Aces start third quarter with a 14-4 run

Las Vegas had a net rating of plus-19.3 in third quarters during the regular season this year, easily the best in the league, and the Aces have validated that today, beginning the second half with a 14-4 run. Jackie Young has been the playmaker for Vegas with Chelsea Gray blanketed by Betnijah Laney, but the key for the Aces run has been moving the ball quickly when the double/help comes and getting open looks as a result.

October 8, 2023 at 4:08 PM EDTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Liberty lead Aces at halftime

The first half was an offensive showcase with each team having three double digit scorers. Liberty guard Marine Johannes and Aces guard Kelsey Plum are tied for the game-high with 14 points. The Aces have 48.5 / 41.7 / 90 percent shooting splits while the Liberty are at 51.4 / 40 / 83.3. The Liberty have a slim 49-46 lead at the break, but it looks like this one will come down to whichever team steps up on defense.

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October 8, 2023 at 4:04 PM EDTBen Pickman

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'Everybody knows Marine Johannès in French basketball'

Ben Pickman wrote about Marine Johannès in July. She has 14 points at halftime as the Liberty lead the Aces 49-46.

Heading into Marine Johannès’ home debut last July, the New York Liberty guard felt stressed, knowing that a crowd of thousands was coming to see the team play. Johannès had suited up for New York before, in 2019, but Barclays Center was a new environment for her. The WNBA season was also already a month in.

What emerged out of any feelings of anxiety was a magical moment. With less than a minute to play until halftime against the Chicago Sky, a driving Johannès, a step inside the free-throw line, whirled the basketball behind her back to an open Stefanie Dolson, who was stationed at the top of the 3-point arc. Johannès had not been looking at the Liberty center when she let the ball go. Chicago defenders didn’t see the pass coming either, and were in no position to close out. Dolson sank the open triple. The New York bench rejoiced.

Johannès might be the WNBA’s most creative passer, though Las Vegas Aces guard Chelsea Gray can make a case for that honor as well. She’s a budding star in America, having already established acclaim abroad. “In terms of women’s basketball, she’s by far the most popular French player ever,” Cabioc’h says. “Everybody knows Marine Johannès in French basketball.”

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October 8, 2023 at 3:52 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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Aces lock in, tie game 35-35

The Aces had trailed for the entire second quarter until Kelsey Plum's hop-step layup to tie the game at 35. As part of a 7-0 run, the Aces have locked in defensively as they've forced six consecutive Liberty misses and a turnover.

October 8, 2023 at 3:50 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (46)WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (47)

Focus on rebounding

Becky Hammon said if there was one thing she was focused on defensively heading into this series, it was rebounding, after her team was outrebounded by an average of eight in regular-season games against the Liberty. The two teams just went into a timeout on a possession when New York has already collected three offensive rebounds; those are the Liberty's first o-boards of the game, but the Aces have to keep that part of the game in check to avoid falling further behind.

October 8, 2023 at 3:47 PM EDTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Aces defense in need of a boost

The Aces are lucky to only be down five with how poorly they're defending right now. The Liberty have 48.1 / 35.7 / 100 shooting splits with Jonquel Jones leading the way with 10 points. The Aces aren't having any problems scoring in their own right, but coach Becky Hammon can't be happy with what she's seeing on the defensive side of the floor thus far.

October 8, 2023 at 3:36 PM EDTBen Pickman

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Despite long layoff, Aces and Liberty off to quick start

Liberty assistant coach Olaf Lange told The Athletic yesterday that he thought both teams might get off to a slow start considering the long layoff between the semifinals and this year's finals... Well, ... there didn't appear to be a lot of rust between the two teams. The Liberty and Aces scored a combined 47 points in the first quarter, with New York leading 25–22 after one. New York reserve guard Marine Johannès and Aces star guard Jackie Young are the game's leading scorers with eight points in the first quarter. (Johannès had scored just five points combined thus far through the playoffs.) Ten different players recorded a basket in the opening frame.

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October 8, 2023 at 3:30 PM EDTBen Pickman

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Marine Johannès enters the game

Leading into the start of Game 1, Liberty coach Sandy Brondello admitted that she probably should have played reserve guard Marine Johannès more in New York's semifinal series vs. Connecticut. (Johannès played less than 30 minutes through the entirety of the series and didn't see the floor in Game 4). Johannès entered this game just over halfway into the first quarter, and it took her just over a minute to get on the scoresheet, with a diving layup. On the ensuing possession, Johannès then hit a pull-up three, with Aces coach Becky Hammon calling a timeout after the Liberty guard did

October 8, 2023 at 3:21 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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Stars turn out for Game 1

The stars are here on and off the court in Vegas -- Sheryl Swoopes, Tom Brady, Mikal Bridges, and Cam Johnson are among the luminaries in attendance for Game 1 of the Finals. Neither team's shooting seems affected by the long layoff to start. The Aces have hit 4-of-5 from 3-point range to build an early six-point lead, with triples from Jackie Young, Kelsey Plum, and Chelsea Gray.

Tom Brady, who is a newly appointed minority owner of the Aces, also arrived for the game and mingled with fans before tipoff.

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The Athletic

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Birthday finals trivia

Today is Chelsea Gray's birthday. Only three other players have appeared in a WNBA Finals game on their birthday:

Ticha Penicheiro: 2005 Game 3 (SAC)

Devereaux Peters: 2013 Game 2 (MIN)

Sylvia Fowles: 2015 Game 2 (MIN)

All 3 won that game AND the title.

October 8, 2023 at 2:58 PM EDTBen Pickman

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How did Sandy Brondello spend the hours leading up to Game 1?

The Liberty coach said that she finished "all my work last night," not needing to cram any film or game-planning into the hours directly before tipoff. Instead, she said she tried to sleep in a bit on Sunday, showered and came to the arena. She'll spend some time pregame, then, reviewing end of game situations. "Let the fun begin," Brondello said. "I think we've all been waiting for it for a long time."

October 8, 2023 at 2:56 PM EDTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Candace Parker remains sidelined

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Tashan Reed / The Athletic

Candace Parker won't play today — and remains doubtful to suit up at all during this series as she continues to recover from a broken foot — but she felt good enough to walk around and sign a few autographs before tipoff. She'll be supporting her teammates from the bench.

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October 8, 2023 at 2:53 PM EDTTashan Reed·Staff Writer, Raiders

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Mark Davis arrives for game

Mark Davis arrived at Michelob ULTRA Arena and took his courtside seat about an hour before tipoff of Game 1 of the 2023 WNBA Finals. The owner of the Las Vegas Aces and Las Vegas Raiders will have a busy next few days as the Aces host Game 1 today, the Raiders host the Packers for Monday Night Football tomorrow and the Aces host Game 2 on Wednesday.

October 8, 2023 at 2:50 PM EDTBen Pickman

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New York Liberty again at ‘epicenter’ of WNBA

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Rocky Widner / WNBAE via Getty Images

As the 2023 WNBA regular season wound down and the New York Liberty prepared for the playoffs with championship hopes, several former players started a group text. When the current iteration of the franchise takes the floor for games, the former Liberty stars message each other about the on-court happenings they observe. They muse about physical screens, and evaluate the Liberty’s offensive and defensive execution. They wear Liberty gear and share selfies.

“For the first time in my life since I’ve retired, I’m just a basketball fan,” says Sue Wicks, a Liberty forward from 1997-2002 who is one of seven players in the franchise’s Ring of Honor. “To feel fanhood, is a great sensation for me.”

No longer does Wicks worry about the security of the WNBA or the stability of her former organization, which is one of only two remaining franchises from 1997 in its original city. Now, she can just enjoy New York’s success.

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October 8, 2023 at 2:30 PM EDTSabreena Merchant·Staff Writer, Women's Basketball

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Breanna Stewart versus A’ja Wilson: A championship rivalry the WNBA deserves

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Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

When Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson step on the court Sunday for the start of the WNBA Finals, they’ll represent not only the New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces but the fiery rivalry that the league hopes can continue to fan the popularity it’s accrued through nearly three decades.

The superstars’ catalog of accomplishments is too extensive to even detail in full; it reads more like the resume of two retired pros rather than two players in the primes of their career. They have defined the last decade of their sport, starting with their national championships in college, leading into their gold medals for USA Basketball and now as direct competitors in the best league in the world. The Liberty and Aces are merely in the first chapter of their arms race, but the rivalry between these two all-time greats — the faces of the league — has already proved its staying power and its importance to the future of the WNBA.

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WNBA Finals: Liberty vs Aces live updates (2024)

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