GAME PREVIEW—Aces Return Home for Tuesday Tilt vs. Minnesota

LAS VEGAS (June 10, 2024)—The two early leading candidates for the 2024 WNBA M’VP Award square off against one another for the second time this season, as A’ja Wilson and the Las Vegas Aces (5-4, 1-2) return to Michelob ULTRA Arena Tuesday, June 11, for a Commissioner’s Cup clash against Napheesa Collier and the Minnesota Lynx (8-3, 3-1).

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Wilson leads the league in both scoring (28.3 ppg) and rebounding (11.8 rpg), while ranking tied for 1st in blocks (3.00 bpg), 6th in steals (1.89 spg), and 10th in field goal percentage (.508). She has scored 20 or more points in a WNBA record 14 straight games, and 28 or more points in a WNBA record 6 straight. Collier ranks 4th in the league on scoring (21.4 ppg), 3rd in rebounding (11.4 rpg) and steals (.216 spg), and tied for 8th in 3-point field goal percentage (.391).

The Lynx have been one of the surprises of the league in 2024. One year ago, they finished with a 19-21 record, and ranked eighth in the league in offensive efficiency (99.8 points per 100 possessions) and 10th in defensive efficiency (105.7 point allowed per 100 possessions). This season, Minnesota is five games over .500, and boasts the third most efficient offense (103.5) and second most efficient defense (91.2).

Perhaps the most impressive improvement in the Lynx play has come on the perimeter. A year ago, Minnesota allowed opponents to connect on 35.7 percent of their 3-balls. This season, teams are making just 27.5 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. On the flip side, the Lynx are making 40.5 percent of their shots from distance in 2024 compared to 32.5 percent a year ago.

While three-time All-Star Collier is enjoying her best season in the W, 10-year veteran Kayla McBride is also posting some of the best numbers of her career, averaging 18.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 3.5 assists, while leading the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.512). Offseason acquisition Alanna Smith has also played a major role in the team’s turnaround. The six-year pro is averaging career-highs in scoring (12.0 ppg), assists (3.3) , steals (1.5) and blocks (2.0), while making 44.8 percent of her shots from distance.

Minnesota has won 4 of its last 5 games with its lone loss during that stretch coming in a one-point defeat on the road against Phoenix.

Las Vegas finds itself in unfamiliar territory having lost two straight games for just the 2nd time in the last two seasons. The last time the Aces dropped 3 straight games during the regular season was August 23-27, 2019. In 2023, the team’s 4th loss didn’t come until the 32nd game of the season on August 19.

The Aces have been without the services of Point Gawd Chelsea Gray (lower left leg) for the entire season thus far, and third-year veteran Kierstan Bell has played in just 1 game this year (lower right leg). Las Vegas also played its most recent game—a 96-92 road loss to Los Angeles (box score/recap)—without two-time All-Star Jackie Young (illness), who is averaging career highs of 18.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game in 2024.

Kelsey Plum is averaging 19.3 points per game, while dishing out 4.9 assists, while the recently acquired Tiffany Hayes is scoring 11.0 points per game and averaging 4.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists per contest.

Las Vegas still boasts one of the best offenses in the league averaging 103.8 points per 100 possessions, second only to New York at 106.7. They are the best team in the league at taking care of the basketball committing a turnover on just 13.7 percent of their possessions, second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (.339), and tops in free throw percentage (.851).

Defensively, the Aces rank seventh in the W in efficiency at 99.3 points allowed per 100 possessions. They lead the league in defensive rebound percentage (.735), but allow opponents to make a league-high 37.7 percent of their 3-pointers.

Las Vegas is 35-57 all-time against the Lynx, with wins in 5 straight games and 9 of the last 10 vs. Minnesota. The Aces beat the Lynx, 80-66, on May 29 of this year (box score/recap). Wilson led Las Vegas with 29 points and 15 rebounds, while Young added a 19-point, 10-assist double-double.

The Aces hit the road again following the Lynx game, traveling to Phoenix for a Thursday, June 13 meeting with the Mercury, their fifth Commissioner’s Cup game of the year.