June 5, 2023

In Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm, all the focus will be on Suburd’s performance in her final regular-season home game.she City of Seattle and organization honored in touching pregame ceremony And address the sold-out crowd after the final buzzer.

However, when the game really came to an end, A’ja Wilson and Breanna Stewart stole the show in a great matchup between the leading MVP candidates. Wilson got off to a good start with 29 points and 6 rebounds despite Stewart’s 35 points and 10 rebounds, 89-81 despite the Aces beating the Storm 89-81.

Here are three key takeaways from the game:

1. Wilson vs Stewart

After the season, A’ja Wilson or Breanna Stewart will win the 2022 WNBA MVP award and become the seventh player in league history to win the honor multiple times. In Sunday afternoon’s matchup between the Aces and Storm, they showed why they are two of the best players in the league.

Wilson was on fire right off the bat and helped the Aces take the lead in the second quarter. She finished with 29 points and six rebounds on 13-for-24 shooting from the field and made some big baskets in the fourth quarter to stop the storm. While she’s always been a great scorer, this performance was another reminder of how much she’s improved on offense. She’s making jump shots, putting the ball on the deck to get to the rim, and showing some real skill in the low post.

Stewart, on the other hand, did his best to keep the Storm in the game, despite not getting help from anyone but Tina Charles, the team’s only other double-digit scorer. Stewart finished with a season-high 35 points and 10 rebounds on 10-of-18 shooting, including 4-of-5 from 3-point range. She was particularly effective the rest of the game, scoring 14 of the Storm’s 18, but it wasn’t enough. It was Stewart’s second straight 30-point game, and she boosted her scoring average to a career-high 21.9 points and earned her first scoring title.

2. Bird honored before final home game of regular season

Sue Bird is the WNBA’s all-time leader in games, and in those 651 games, few have been as important as Sunday’s game, her last regular-season home game in Seattle. And, thanks to the new playoff format, in what could be her last game in the city, she’s settled.

The Storm battled the Mystics for the No. 4 seed and home court in the first round. Under the league’s new playoff system, the first-round series will be best-of-three, with games one and two hosted by high-seeded teams. So there’s a situation where the Storm finish fifth and get swept 2-0 by the Mystics without playing. home playoffs. Of course, it’s unlikely, but it’s possible, and it makes Sunday all the more meaningful.

Before the game, the mayor of Seattle declared Sunday “Sue Bird Day” and honored her with a heartfelt pregame ceremony. She also received a custom ring in recognition of her many accomplishments, including four championship titles, a record 13 All-Star appearances and a WNBA all-time assist record.

“Right now I just want to say, from the bottom of my heart, how grateful I am,” Bird said to the crowd after the game. “Not just for today, but for all of you showing up and supporting us, for 21 years…this place is not just where I play, it’s where I call home.”

3. The playoff impact on both teams

Both teams have secured playoff berths but are still fighting for the better seed.

First up is the trump card. After the Sky beat the Suns earlier in the day, the Aces desperately needed a win to keep up with the No. 1 seed and make some gaps in the race for the No. 2 seed. They got what they needed and are two games behind Sky with one game remaining between the two clubs that will decide the tiebreaker. They’re also a game for the Suns now, and already have the tiebreaker, which means they’re getting close to getting at least a top-two seed. Ace second is still the most likely outcome, but they are still looking for first.

As for the Storm, they got some big help from the Los Angeles Sparks, who beat the Washington Mystics on Sunday. With Storm and Mystics both losing, nothing has changed for the No. 4 seed. The Storm lead the standings by half-time, with a game in hand and a tiebreaker between the clubs. However, they do have a tougher schedule ahead, with games still in progress against the Sky, Bobcats and Aces.

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