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Wings are next obstacle for defending champion Aces

Aug 6, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA;  Las Vegas Aces forward A'ja Wilson (22) blocks a shot taken by New York Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu (20) in the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Aces are in a familiar place and the Dallas Wings are in an unfamiliar one as the WNBA semifinals get under way.

The defending champion and top-seeded Aces will host the fourth-seeded Wings in Game 1 of a best-of-five series Sunday afternoon. Las Vegas swept No. 8 Chicago in the first round and Dallas swept No. 5 Atlanta for its first playoff series victory since 2009 when the franchise was in Detroit.

Reigning MVP A’ja Wilson scored a Las Vegas postseason-record 38 points and added 16 rebounds and four blocks in a 92-70 victory in Game 2.

“The way she approaches the game, her humility, her competitiveness, her fire and just the way she’s selfless, that’s something that I think is overlooked with superstars,” teammate Alysha Clark said of Wilson.

Wilson made 15 of 23 field-goal attempts and eight of 10 free throws.

“She was spectacular,” Aces coach Becky Hammon said.

Las Vegas finished off the Sky on Sept. 17 and Dallas finished off the Dream two days later with a 101-74 victory.

“Our plan was to handle business against Atlanta so we (could have) a couple extra days off before we got ready for Vegas,” said Wings guard Arike Ogunbowale, who had team-highs of 20 points and seven assists. “Everybody knows Vegas, one of the best teams in the league. But it’s a new season.”

The Wings, who overcame a 20-point first-half deficit to win Game 1 94-82, broke the franchise record for margin of victory in the postseason in Game 2.

“We struggled a little bit over the years, but it’s all about the journey,” Ogunbowale said. “To finally get here, get to the semifinals, after five years being on this team is amazing.”

Las Vegas defeated Dallas 3-1 in the regular-season series.

Wings coach Latricia Trammell said “words can’t express” her feelings about her team’s first-round victory.

“I just think that’s not enough for them,” Trammell said.

–Field Level Media

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