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New York Liberty book WNBA Finals date with Las Vegas Aces

Betnijah Laney was one of three New York Liberty starters with 21 points or more in Sunday's series-clinching win against the Connecticut Sun in the WNBA semifinals. (David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty have advanced to their first WNBA Finals since 2002, where they will go up against their superteam rival in the Las Vegas Aces.

With the 87-84 win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 of the WNBA semifinals, the Liberty clinched a 3-1 series victory. Three of their starters scored 20 points or more to lead New York: Breanna Stewart (27), Jonquel Jones (25) and Betnijah Laney (21).

While the Liberty have four previous WNBA Finals appearances, the last one came in 2002. New York is one of the WNBA’s eight founding franchises, but it has never won a championship.

From the start of the 2023 season, though, the Liberty and the defending champion Aces were the betting favorites to compete in the Finals. Heading into the postseason, FanDuel set -210 odds for a battle of the superteams, followed by +500 for an Aces-Sun meeting.

New York transformed into a contender with a blockbuster offseason, headlined by the signing of the premier free agent in Stewart and the trade for 2021 MVP Jones. Jones finished Sunday’s win with a double-double, posting 15 rebounds in addition to her 25 points. She also had four blocks, including an emphatic stop of Connecticut’s DeWanna Bonner in the final seconds of the first half.

Yet while the Liberty won the day (and the series), Sun forward Alyssa Thomas turned in the most memorable performance.

The 31-year-old star collided with Jones in the fourth quarter, and then she remained on the ground, grimacing in pain. But after spending several minutes in the locker room, she returned to complete the 11th triple-double of her career.

Thomas finished with a team-high 17 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists. She leads the WNBA in career triple-doubles; no other player has more than three. She also has a record three postseason triple-doubles, after recording two in the 2022 WNBA Finals. All other players in league history have combined for two.

The New York Liberty and Las Vegas Aces will start the WNBA Finals next Sunday, Oct. 8, with Game 1 set for a 3 p.m. ET tip-off on ABC.