The stage is set for the semi-finals of the 2023 WNBA Playoffs as the No. 1 seed Las Vegas Aces square off against the Dallas Wings in a best-of-five series. Game 1 of the Las Vegas-Dallas clash will be on Monday as A'ja Wilson and the Aces prepare to defend their crown. Ahead of the series opener, let us make our Aces-Wings predictions
As expected, Las Vegas made quick work of its first-round series and swept the Chicago Sky in two games. Chicago stood no chance against the defending champs as the juggernaut Aces blew them out of the sky in both games. Game 1 saw Las Vegas hold Chicago to just 33.3 percent field goal shooting to take an 87-59 win. The Aces finally put the Sky out of their misery with a 92-70 beatdown in Game 2 as A'ja Wilson dropped a playoff career-high 38 points to lead Vegas to the second round.
Standing in the way of Las Vegas' quest for back-to-back titles are the Wings, who took care of their first-round assignment Atlanta Dream via a sweep as well. As expected, the Aces, who finished the regular season with a record of 34-6, head into this series as heavy favorites. Vegas shouldn't take this upstart team lightly, though, as the Wings can definitely catch the champs on a bad night if they let their guard down.
Nonetheless, if the Aces just play Aces basketball, this series should be over in no time. With that, let's make our Aces predictions for their WNBA playoffs series against the Wings.
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1. Aces big four will all average 20 points per game
Las Vegas features a Big Four consisting of reigning WNBA MVP A'ja Wilson, and All-Stars Kelsey Plum, Chelsea Gray, and Jackie Young. As loaded and heavily favored as they are, the Aces don't seem to be putting their feet off the gas pedal as they look to make their way back to the WNBA Finals. Wilson, in particular, is in peak form after she dropped 38 points in Game 2. Meanwhile, Chelsea Gray led the team in scoring with 20 points in Game 1 of their first round series.
Only Wilson averaged over 20 points in their first round matchup versus Chicago and even that was anchored by the 38-point explosion. However, during their regular season series versus the Wings, they all came close to averaging 20 or more points per contest.
In the 3-1 series, Plum led the team with an average of 23.0 points per game, while Wilson was not far behind at 22.5. Gray was on the doorstep of the 20-point mark at 19.3 points per game, while Young was also close at 17.5 points per game. The three guards — Plum, Gray, and Young — in particular, dominated the Dallas backcourt. Together, the trio shot 52.2 percent from the field and 48.7 percent from beyond the arc.
Wilson will always get hers, while the star backcourt trio can explode on any given night. As such, it wouldn't be far-fetched to predict all of the Aces' Big Four average at least 20 points per game in this series.
2. Aces will hold the Wings to less than 40 percent field goal shooting
As much of a force the Aces are on offense, they are also a juggernaut on the defensive side of the floor. Anchored by reigning Defensive Player of the Year A'ja Wilson, Las Vegas finished with the best defensive rating in the league in the regular season. They were also second in opposing points per game (80.3) and opposing field goal percentage (42.6).
During the Aces' regular season series against the Wings, they held Dallas to just 42.7 percent field goal shooting and 30.5 percent three-point shooting. With that said, we're predicting Las Vegas to clamp down on defense and hold the young Wings to below 40 percent field goal shooting throughout the series.
Dallas did hold its own against Las Vegas in the regular season, as they outworked the Aces on the offensive glass, 46-26. Look for Las Vegas to take advantage of its size and impose its will in the rebounding battle and finish its defensive possessions by limiting Dallas' knack of grabbing offensive boards. The Wings finished the regular season as the offensive rebounding team in the WNBA.
3. The Aces will sweep the Wings
Expect the Aces to make quick work of the Wings in the second round. Las Vegas went 3-1 against Dallas during the regular season and won by an average of 9.5 points per game.
With the Big Four dominating offensively and the team clamping down on defense, we predict the Aces to convincingly sweep the Wings en route to the WNBA Finals.
With all due respect to Dallas, the team's future is bright with Arike Ogunbowale, Satou Sabally, and Natasha Howard leading the way. But this is Vegas' time and its domination of the WNBA will not slow down any time soon.