The 25th WNBA season got underway this weekend. The first games of the 2021 season provided standout performances from familiar faces and new names to keep an eye on.
Here are five things we’ve learned so far:
Candace Parker could be exactly what the Chicago Sky need for a Finals run
The Chicago Sky have yet to win a WNBA title and the franchise hasn’t made it the Finals since 2014.
The Sky finished last season with a 12-10 record and have emphasized defense this year — with the help of the offseason addition of 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Candace Parker.
Chicago held the Mystics to 56 points in a season-opening win on Saturday.
“I think it’s looking really good. I think we’ve all bought in,” Chicago center Stefanie Dolson said of the defense on Monday. “I’m not surprised that we showed that during the first game.”
Dolson added that Parker has been easy to play with and fits in naturally with the team.
The Liberty will be just as much fun to watch as we thought
The Liberty won just as many games this weekend as they did last season: two.
Sabrina Ionescu missed most of the 2020 season with an ankle injury but didn’t miss a beat in the Liberty’s season opener. She scored 25 points, including this game-winner with less than a second left:
— WNBA (@WNBA) May 15, 2021
Meanwhile, teammate Betnijah Laney has scored 50 points through the Liberty’s first two games of the year. Laney, the league’s Most Improved Player in 2020, spent last season in Atlanta and averaged 17.2 points per game.
The WNBA Finals rematch looked a lot like the WNBA Finals
The 2020 season ended with the Seattle Storm defeating the Las Vegas Aces 92-59 to claim the franchise’s fourth league title.
The Storm began their title defense by beating the Aces 97-83 on Saturday. The Aces took an early nine-point lead, but Seattle recovered quickly and led by one at the end of the first quarter. 2020 WNBA season MVP A’ja Wilson scored 24 points, but it wasn’t enough for the Aces as they struggled to close the Storm’s lead for most of the game. Breanna Stewart finished with 28 points and 13 rebounds, Jewell Loyd added 22 points and Sue Bird tallied 11 points and 8 assists. The three led the Storm to last year’s title.
The Aces can make it back to the WNBA Finals
When they were swept by Storm 3-0 in last year’s Finals, the Aces were without Liz Cambage and Kelsey Plum. Cambage missed the bubble season with a medical exemption, and Plum suffered a torn Achilles. While Seattle looked dominant on Saturday, the presence of Cambage and Plum could make all the difference. Cambage finished with 16 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes, while Plum put up 11 points.
Social justice causes will remain at the forefront of the league
Seattle revealed its 2020 championship rings, which feature a tribute to Breonna Taylor, according to the official graphic released by the Storm.
A ring that tells a story. 💍
— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) May 15, 2021
Meanwhile, the Atlanta Dream will be playing this season under the three-member investor group that bought the team from former U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler. Dream players had been advocating for the sale of the team after Loeffler was critical of the Black Lives Matter movement. The new ownership group contains Renee Montgomery, who played for Atlanta, as well as Suzanne Abair and Larry Gottesdiener.
My Dream has come true.
— Atlanta Dream (@AtlantaDream) February 26, 2021
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