The best-of-five WNBA Finals begin on Friday, featuring the Las Vegas Aces and Seattle Storm. Here are five key storylines to know heading into game one.
1. Seattle Storm look to maintain perfect a Finals record
The Seattle Storm have reached the WNBA Finals three times before (2004, 2010, 2018), emerging victorious each time. In fact, the team has lost just one Finals game (back in 2004), sweeping the series in its two most recent appearances. A fourth title will tie the Storm with the Minnesota Lynx and now-defunct Houston Comets for most championship titles in league history.
2. Las Vegas Aces aim for first WNBA title
Three years after finishing last in the regular season standings, the Las Vegas Aces are aiming to win their first WNBA title. (The franchise began in Utah during the WNBA’s inaugural season in 1997 before moving to San Antonio in 2003 and then Las Vegas ahead of the 2018 season.) This will be the Aces second Finals appearance in franchise history (the team – then the San Antonio Silver Stars – lost 0-3 to Detroit in 2008).
Also on the line for the Aces: A’ja Wilson looks to become the fifth straight MVP to lead her team to the title in the same season.
3. Sixteen seasons after her first title, Sue Bird could win title No. 4
The Storm’s Sue Bird already owns league records for most career minutes, games, and assists. Bird also has three WNBA titles, having played a part in all of Seattle’s previous championship wins (2004, 2010, 2018). Next week, the 39-year-old could become the 10th player in league history to win a fourth career title. (Rebekkah Brunson is the only player to own five, having won with two different teams.)
4. Both teams enter WNBA Finals with slightly different rosters
The Seattle Storm and Las Vegas Aces met twice during the abbreviated 22-game regular season, with the Aces winning both times. But each team’s roster will look somewhat different for the WNBA Finals.
Two of the Storm’s star players – Bird and Breanna Stewart – didn’t play in their team’s most recent matchup against the Aces. Both players have nursed injuries throughout the season, with Bird missing 11 of 22 regular season games. Bird and Stewart are both expected to be in the Storm’s lineup on Friday, though.
However, the Storm will be without Sami Whitcomb. The guard left the “wubble” earlier this week and returned home to Australia to be with her wife for the birth of their first child.
The Aces will also be missing a key player. Dearica Hamby, who was named the league’s “Sixth Women of the Year” last week, sustained a right knee injury during the Aces third semifinal game.
5. Racial justice likely to remain a major topic
WNBA players have long been known for their commitment to activism, from speaking up for LGBTQ rights to racial justice. In July, the league dedicated the 2020 season to Breonna Taylor and the #SayHerName movement, which helps raise awareness for Black women who are victims of police brutality. Players have worn Taylor’s name on the backs of their jerseys all season.
Following last week’s grand jury announcement that no officers would be directly charged with Taylor’s death, many players spoke up about their disappointment, anger, and frustration at the news. “I see myself in these women. I don’t want to become a hashtag or a T-shirt,” A’ja Wilson said.
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