Game of the week
The Minnesota Lynx and Phoenix Mercury figured in a double overtime barnburner last week with Aerial Powers powering (pun intended) her team with a personal-best 35 points to go along with 13 rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Phoenix’s Sophie Cunningham also had a career performance with 36 points, highlighted by six triples, plus five steals. Cunningham was a sniper from deep, refusing to let her team lose as she hit timely baskets to keep the Mercury in the game.
Cunningham drilled a clutch trey with four seconds left in regulation to force the first overtime. In the second OT, it was a fearless drive by Skylar Diggins-Smith that forced another extra session. Diggins-Smith finished with 32 points, 10 assists, six rebounds, and three steals in an all-around showcase.
In the end, though, the Lynx had enough gas in the tank to get the home victory. Rachel Banham also had a solid performance with 25 points and seven dimes while Kayla McBride contributed 17 points, including a perfect 9-for-9 clip at the line.
The Lynx and Mercury have had a trying season so far but this game just proved that every team is dangerous in the W. Both teams are better than their records suggest and they have been playing better basketball as of late.
Team in the spotlight
The Chicago Sky are playing like the defending champions that they are. They’re on a four-game win streak and have won nine of their last 10 games.
The Sky are on a tear and it’s hard to look for holes with how well they’re playing as of late. Six players are averaging double figures and you can even include rookie Rebekah Garnder in the mix with her numbers of 8.9 points.
Chicago is scoring by committee, maximizing all its various weapons. Whether it’s last season’s Finals MVP Kahleah Copper slicing her way inside, Candace Parker hitting you with a jumper, Emma Meesseman getting a putback, or Azura Stevens showing off her range, the Sky can hurt you in a number of ways. You can’t forget Courtney Vandersloot’s elite passing and the ever-deadly, four-time 3-point queen Allie Quigley.
Last year, the Sky had a late surge that catapulted them into the playoffs. They peaked at the right time and other teams couldn’t solve them. This season, even though they won’t have that same element of surprise, they’ll carry with them their championship pedigree and winning fortitude. They’re the team to beat as we head into the final month of the regular season.
After her 30-piece in the WNBA All-Star Game, Kelsey Plum has not let her foot off the gas pedal. In back-to-back games in New York, she had 27 and 21 and a combined seven triples. And against playoff contender Connecticut Sun, she had 22 points to help her team get the win.
The former No.1 overall pick is putting up career numbers in points (20.3), rebounds (2.9), assists (5.5), and steals (1.1). She’s also attempting and making the most triples (3.2/7.7) in her fifth season as one of the catalysts of Las Vegas’ potent offense.
Plum won Sixth Player of the Year last season, is she going to win Most Improved soon?
Watch out for…
The WNBA Commissioner’s Cup Championship is set for July 27 at 8:30 AM (PH time). The top two teams in the league go at it as the Chicago Sky (19-6) host the Las Vegas Aces (18-7).
The Sky, representing the Eastern Conference, went 9-1 in Commissioner’s Cup games as they only lost to the Indiana Fever.
Similarly, the Aces of the Western Conference also won nine games and lost only to the Seattle Storm.
The Commissioner’s Cup is the annual in-season tournament of the WNBA with a $500,000 cash prize at stake for the players.
This season, teams also had the chance to donate to local nonprofits. In all of the Commissioner’s Cup games, the league donated $2,000 to each winning team’s chosen organization and $500 to the losing team’s organization.
For the championship game, the WNBA will donate $10,000 to the victor’s organization and $5,000 to the runner-up.