As the Canadian women’s basketball team won gold in Rio, the Aces—the WNBA team set up by the Canadian Olympic women’s basketball team—were quietly enjoying their first WNBA championship. The Aces have won a total of four WNBA titles, which is more than any other Canadian team. And although they were not the first Canadian team to win a WNBA title, they were certainly the most successful. In fact, only the Los Angeles Sparks have won more titles than the Aces, with six. The Aces were also the first Canadian team to appear in the WNBA Finals.
The two Americans were unable to overcome the two Canadians, who were able to hold on to their lead despite being in a game that was not theirs to lead. The fight for the top spot was indeed a battle between the two top seeds whom have both been dominating their respective regions for quite some time, but for the first time, the two Americans and two Canadians got all three points from the game, making the Canadians the first ones in the Western Canadian-Ontario Women’s Hockey League (WCOWHL) to win a playoff series in the recent history of the league.
The National Basketball Association’s Las Vegas Aces beat the Minnesota Lynx 74-68 to win the WNBA Western Conference and earn a spot in the finals of the 2019 WNBA playoffs. The victory marks the first time the Aces have won the Western Conference in franchise history and the first time they’ve ever qualified for the WNBA finals. Cambage now has the opportunity to lead the Aces out of the finals for the first time in franchise history.
9:45 A.M. EASTERN TIME. Kelly Cohen Heading into Week 4 of the 2021 WNBA season, the league’s top teams should be confident as their attacks continue to grow and the wins continue to pile up. Teams like the Connecticut Sun and the Las Vegas Aces are formidable. But teams that started the season wanting to win, like the Los Angeles Sparks, have begun to find answers. And victories. This week, the ruling trio has settled into a new order and is unlikely to be overthrown any time soon. But previously struggling teams, such as the Minnesota Sparks and Lynx, are adapting and posting victories. As the season approaches its break for the Tokyo Olympics in July, we’ve already seen some extremely fun games and binge-watching. Both games between the Seattle Storm and Dallas Wings this weekend were decided by heroes. First Jewell Loyd scored a 27-yarder in overtime on Friday, then Arike Ogunbovale answered with a 28-yarder on Sunday to complete a 12-point comeback for the Wings away from home. And last Tuesday, Kia Nurse hit a three-pointer from midfield to give the Phoenix Mercury the lead against the Chicago Sky. A look at the week 4 rankings. Previous reviews: Preseason. Week 1. Week 2. Week 3. 1. Las Vegas Aces 2021: 7-3 Previous ranking: 3 No, they don’t have the best record in the league, but when the Aces play well, they are by far the best team to win. 2 Connected Las Vegas ranks third in the WNBA (behind Seattle and Dallas) in points per game (89.7). In addition to their lightning fast offense, their defense was also strong: Ace is fourth with just 80.1 points per game. If the offense doesn’t work, they have a strong defense protecting them, and vice versa. Liz Cambage is second only to Minnesota’s Sylvia Fowles in field goal percentage (61.2%) and her 2.2 blocks per game are third best in the WNBA. A’ja Wilson (18.6 PPG, 8.0 RPG) and Chelsea Gray (12.2 PPG, 6.8 APG) are also playing very well, with Gray standing out with her assists. Despite a two-game win streak (and five wins in its last six games), Las Vegas showed some weaknesses in Saturday’s game against Washington: Sometimes aces get too complacent and give up their position. Regardless of the 96-93 win over the Mystics, it’s nice to see the Aces play their best basketball. This week: DAL 2. Connecticut Sun 2021 : 8-2 Previous Assessment : 1 Jonquel Jones is still on fire. It’s big. As the only player in the WNBA averaging a double-double (21.6 PPG, 10.4 RPG), she is the leading contender for the MVP award so far. Jones had 13 rebounds and scored a game-high 31 points Sunday against New York. She is the fourth top scorer in the WNBA and leads the league in rebounding. DeVanna Bonner (16.6 PPG, 6.7 RPG) and Brionna Jones (12.6 PPG, 6.0 RPG) scored in the double digits alongside her. Sunday’s win showed how seriously the Suns take their defense. Liberty is shooting well, especially from the 3-point line, where they have the best scoring percentage in the league at 41.4%. But the Suns held Liberty, which averaged 81.7 PPG, to its lowest point production of the season (64). The Suns have the best defense in the league, scoring just 72.5 points per game. The Suns are serious title contenders, and their back-to-back wins over the Aces and Liberty prove it. But Connecticut must face the coming weeks with some trepidation. Jones will miss at least four games while playing for Bosnia-Herzegovina in the FIBA European Women’s Basketball Championship. This week: MORE 3. Seattle Storm 2021: 7-2 Previous Assessment : 2 Arike Ogunbovale and the Wings ended Seattle’s six-game winning streak. The Storm is averaging 88.8 points, but scored a game-high 18 points Sunday in its first loss in 18 years. May only 67 points. Jewell Loyd scored 25 points, Breanna Stewart was another MVP contender with 14 points and Sue Bird had 13 points, but they were the only Seattle players to score in double figures. The Storm shot just 34.4% from the field and 33.3% from 3-point range. Sure, the Storm held the Wings to a similar standard, but Dallas salvaged an impressive road victory against one of the league’s best teams. The Storm scored only 11 points in the fourth quarter and lost the game thanks to Ogunbowala’s boxing. After this loss, the Storm remain a legitimate threat going forward. This season, Stewart is averaging 22.2 PPG and 9.3 RPG, matching his record from 2016. Loyd also has 20.7 PPG and 4.8 APG, and 4.3 RPG. The Storm now travel to Atlanta to meet the Dreams and try to get back on track. This week: @ATL, @ATL, @CON 4. Phoenix Mercury 2021: 5-3 Previous Assessment : 6 In the absence of the injured Diane Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner came onto the field. Griner ranks second in the league in rebounds (9.6) and blocks per game (2.6) and she is scoring 17.0 points and dishing out 2.1 assists. In eight games, Griner, who played at 1. Western Conference Player of the Week in June, five double-doubles and two shots on goal. Diggins-Smith ranks fifth in the WNBA in assists per game (5.3), and Kia Nurse has stepped up in recent games to temporarily give Phoenix a revamped Big Three. In the two wins over Sky, Nurse scored 18 points and eight rebounds, then 14 points and four rebounds. Diggins-Smith scored 52 points and was the Mercury’s leading scorer in both games. Despite the three game win streak and a slight increase in points, the Mercury have averaged as many points as they allow per game (80.3). That won’t help them in playoff contention if they want to stand out from the rest of the WNBA teams. This week: DAL, DAL, NYL 5. New York Liberty 2021: 5-4 Previous ranking: 4 Liberty has already lost three games and has shown weaknesses in each one. In Saturday’s loss, they scored the fewest points per game this season, just 64 points against an overwhelming San defense, despite averaging 81.7 points per game this season. Despite Bethnie Laney’s unreal play this season – she scored at least 20 points in the first few games before this streak ended Saturday and is fifth in the league with 20.8 points per game – the rest of the team is in a slump. Sabrina Ionescu (13.7 PPG, 7.1 APG, 6.4 RPG) has scored six runs, five RBI and five RBI in the last three games following the season opener with a sweep. Liberty still leads the league in 3-point shooting percentage (41.4) and they will need to keep shooting if they want to end their losing streak and drop in the standings. This week: @PHO 6. Los Angeles Sparks 2021: 4-3 Previous Assessment : 9 The Sparks are on a two-game winning streak thanks to their solid defense, which allowed just 63 points against Indiana and Chicago. Even with a small squad – without Nneka and Chini Ogwumike – they manage to create attacks thanks to an impressive defence. The Sparks are limiting their opponents to 76.6 points per game, second best in the league. In Ogwumika’s absence, Erika Wheeler took the stage. Wheeler scored 17 points in the Sparks’ 82-79 overtime victory over the Sky on the 30th. May, including a field goal early in the extension, and scored 22 points in Saturday’s win over Chicago. Nia Coffey also excelled. She leads the league in three-point shooting, with 53.8 percent from beyond the arc. She also averages 2.1 blocks per game, which shows how valuable she is on both ends of the court. After a slow start to the season, the Sparks seem to have turned things around. By maintaining this pace, the Sparks can continue to rise in the standings when the Ogwumike sisters return. This week: @WAS, @MIN 7. Atlanta Dream 2021: 4-4 Previous ranking: 5 After winning four consecutive games, the Dream have now lost two in a row. But even after back-to-back losses on the road to Minnesota, Atlanta should be fine with the play of Courtney Williams (18.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG) and Tiffany Hayes (18.1 PPG, 3.0 RPG). In addition to her 84.0 PPG average (fourth in the WNBA), Dream leads the league with 10.1 SPG. After an 0-2 start to the season, Atlanta is now in the hunt for playoffs. The key will be to improve the defense. Aside from the stolen points, the Dreams are allowing an average of 86.6 points per game, the second-best average in the league. This week: ATS, ATS, WHAT 8. Washington Mystics 2021: 2-5 Previous ranking: 8 Mystics always feel… mysterious. Despite these two wins, the last two losses were by only five and three points against two of the best teams in the league, Ace and Sun. The fact that both of these teams made it to the end of the game shows that they have a lot going for them, even without the return of Elena Delle Donne. Tina Charles joins Connecticut’s Jonquel Jones at the top of many preseason MVP lists with a league-leading 25.1 points per game. Sidney Wiese, recently acquired, also provides the offense: She is shooting 46.7 percent from three-point range, which ranks seventh in the WNBA. Still, the Mystics are league averages in points per game (80.4) and points per game (81.9). That’s why they lose close games. If they want to finish these games and take a step towards the playoffs, someone other than Charles will have to prove themselves in the attack. This week: MIN, LAS, @ATL 9. Minnesota Lynx 2021 : 3-4 Previous classification : 11 It is a slow but steep climb. The Bobcats have won three consecutive games after losing their first four to open the season. The return of Nafisa Collier has taken the whole team to the next level. In four games this season, she is averaging 16.3 points and 5.8 rebounds. Overall, the Lynx still have a lot of work to do. They score 80.7 PPG and average 81.9 against, which doesn’t bode well for a late game. Collier is the best player on the Lynx team and the undisputed leader of the team, and we look forward to seeing how she continues to carry her teammates. This week: @WAS, LAS 10. Dallas Wings 2021: 3-5 Previous Classification : 10 The Wings split two games on the road against the Storm, which is pretty remarkable. When Arike Ogunbovale isn’t blowing the whistle, she has 22.1 PPG, 3.9 RPG and 3.4 APG while guarding both ends of the floor. Ogunbovale is having an outstanding season and is getting valuable help from Marina Mabry (19.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG), who could be a good candidate for the WNBA’s Best Improved Player in 2021. With those two, the Wings rank third in the league in offensive rating (87.6 pucks). If the Wings want to keep moving in a positive direction, they need to play better defense. They allow 86.3 points per game, third in the league, which means they won’t make the playoffs. This week: @PHO, @LAS 11. Chicago Sky 2021: 2-7 Previous Assessment : 7 The Sky were number 2 in this league until a few weeks ago, but injuries have taken their toll and after two wins at the start of the season they have lost seven in a row. Candace Parker is still out, but even with the return of Alli Quigley and Stephanie Dolson, Chicago has several players absent since the 19th. Mai didn’t win again. The return of Quigley and Dolson should help get the starters back on track. Additionally, the Sky are outstanding on defense, scoring just 78.1 points per game (third best in the league). But scoring just 75.9 points per game – the second worst in the WNBA – doesn’t win you games. In addition, the Sky intercepts the ball 18.3 times per game. If they want to win their third game of the season quickly, they need to limit their mistakes and get their offense back in sync. This week: IND, @IND 12. Indiana Fever 2021: 1-9 Previous ranking: 12 The Fever are scoring 89.6 points per game and have already lost five games. In addition to this poor defense, they average 15.5 turnovers per game. The Fever are the league’s worst shooting three-pointers (26.6%) and rank last with an average of 74.7 points per game. Indiana could have a chance to pick up their second win of the season this week, as they face the Sky twice in a row, who are also struggling. This week: @CHI, CHI
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