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Kelsey Plum on Aces’ ‘adversity’: ‘We’ve been hurt, sued, arrested’

Las Vegas Aces guard Kelsey Plum recovers the ball in the fourth quarter against the New York Liberty in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals. (Wendell Cruz/USA TODAY Sports)

Kelsey Plum thinks the Las Vegas Aces will be just fine in Game 4 of the WNBA Finals, even without two of their key pieces.

Chelsea Gray and Kiah Stokes both will be absent from the Aces’ starting lineup Wednesday night against the New York Liberty after sustaining foot injuries in Game 3. Gray attended practice on a scooter Tuesday, while Stokes was on crutches, and both are questionable to return in the series.

For defending champions, who dominated Games 1 and 2 before losing Game 3, the losses of Gray and Stokes represent major blows.

“It’s brutal,” Las Vegas guard Kelsey Plum said. “You watch them work so hard and get to this point, and you want it for them. So when they go down, it hurts. And there’s no replacing either of them. There’s no magic wand you can wave. There’s just not, and I would be ignorant to tell you that there is. It hurts, absolutely.”

Still, the Aces aren’t letting it get them down. Head coach Becky Hammon joked about having Sydney Colson climb on the back of Liberty center Jonquel Jones as part of the team’s defensive strategy. She also made a remark about bringing back injured star Candace Parker, though she has since been ruled out for Game 4.

And Gray noted that Las Vegas’ system sets them up to be able to replace any given player at any given moment.

“What actually is a positive thing about that is that our system is so fluid that any given person at any given time can be at the top and a different person can be in the corner. So you’re going to see a lot more times where Jackie and KP are at the top since I’m not out there. So our system being fluid actually really helps in that way.”

Plum made a comment about the Aces’ season, which has been marked by dominance on the court but controversies off it. Aces guard Riquna Williams was arrested on domestic violence charges in July; though the charges were dropped in September, she has not rejoined the team. And former Aces forward Dearica Hamby has filed a discrimination complaint against the team for trading her away because of her pregnancy.

“This team has responded all year,” Plum said. “We’ve been through a lot. We’ve been hurt, sued, arrested; you name it, we’ve done it. I’m confident in our group, and we’ve gone through a lot of adversity. We’ll be ready.”

A’ja Wilson echoed Plum’s sentiments about the Aces’ ability to rebound, but she called replacing Gray “a challenge.”

“That’s the head of our snake. That’s our leader. So that’s a challenge, obviously,” she said. “This is something that we’re just going to grind out like we’ve always been. And we’re used to being in the trenches, so at this point, we’ve just got to climb our way out.”