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Aces visit Mystics in clash of unbeatens

Sportsnaut
Mar 23, 2022; Portland, Oregon, USA; San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon watches the warm-up before a game against the Portland Trail Blazers at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

It seems early in the WNBA season for a showdown, but the Las Vegas Aces visiting the Washington Mystics on Tuesday night might just qualify as one.

There are only three two-win teams so far and these are two of them.

The Aces (2-0) have made an early splash under first-year coach Becky Hammon.

The Mystics (2-0) rolled past Indiana in their home opener and then won Sunday at Minnesota.

The latest outcome came without Elena Delle Donne, who was the team’s top scorer in the opener but sat out to rest her back. But there are others ready to contribute for the Mystics, who had five players in double figures Sunday.

“The ball is in my hands 90 percent of the time,” said guard Natasha Cloud, who has been second on the team in scoring in both games so far. “I’m the playmaker for the team. If I can’t get to the bucket, then I’m going to find our open shooter.”

Washington had just eight players for Sunday’s game as Tianna Hawkins was out because of personal reasons, so the Aces are bound to try to exploit any depth issues that might still exist.

The Aces won at Phoenix and then beat Seattle at home, racking up 106 and 85 points, respectively. That production should come as no surprise given that Las Vegas had seven players average double-figure totals in 2021 when they were the league’s top-scoring team.

But there’s more than that for Hammon to consider.

“We can’t run if we don’t rebound,” Hammon said. “We’ve got to secure the ball and finish out our defensive possessions.”

Hammon has mentioned several times that her team might be on the small side, using that as a form of motivation to crank up rebounding. That certainly worked with the Aces holding a 45-30 edge on the boards in the game with Seattle.

A’ja Wilson’s 20 points and Dearica Hamby’s 10-point, 19-rebound effort were among the highlights. Hamby recorded her 100th career game with a double-figure point total.

Las Vegas beat the Mystics in all three meetings last season, winning by one, three and 10 points. Wilson had 14.3 rebounds per game in those meetings, while Cloud averaged 9.7 assists.

–Field Level Media