Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Aces vs. Wings: A’ja Wilson becomes first player in WNBA history to have three straight 30-point playoff games

The defending champion Las Vegas Aces are one win away from going back to the WNBA Finals. Late on Tuesday night, they held on for a 91-84 win over the pesky Dallas Wings in Game 2 of their semi-final series, and took a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five set. 

They did so thanks in large part to A’ja Wilson, who made further history with yet another dominant display. After coming up short in the extremely close MVP race early in the day, Wilson took out her frustration on the Wings. She finished with 30 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on 11-of-18 from the field, and made a quartet of clutch free throws down the stretch to put the game away. 

In the process, Wilson became the first player in WNBA history to score 30 points in three consecutive playoff games. She previously had 38 points in Game 2 of their first-round series against the Chicago Sky, and 34 points in Game 1 of this series. Her 102 total points over those games are also the most in a three-game game span in WNBA postseason history. 

“Playoff basketball, this is what I get paid to do,” Wilson said. “I get to paid to play basketball and have fun with my teammates. I just go out there and try my best, and my teammates find me in the spots. This is what I’m made for and I try to make sure that my team’s doing the same.”

With Wilson operating at this level, her teammates are going to keep finding her, wherever she is on the floor. While she’s a match-up nightmare for any opponent, she’s especially difficult for the Wings to deal with. If they put one of their big, lumbering centers on her, she’ll out-run them in transition or use her quickness in the post to maneuver around them. If they put one of their long, athletic forwards on her, she’ll use her size and strength to bully them in the paint. 

If a few votes had gone differently, Wilson may have been receiving her second consecutive MVP trophy prior to Game 2. As it was, she finished third in one of the closest races ever, earning 17 first place votes and 433 total points, compared to 446 for Breanna Stewart and 439 for Alyssa Thomas. 

But while Wilson would have loved another MVP she’s more eager to claim another championship — and perhaps her first Finals MVP. 

“It is what it is,” Wilson said. “I can’t control that. It is what it is. I gave myself a couple hours, but at the end of the day we’ve got something bigger that we’ve gotta go after. I can’t pay [the MVP award] any mind.”

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