Aces vs. Sky: Why each team could win Commissioner’s Cup final

The Chicago Sky and the Las Vegas Aces are the WNBA’s top two teams. (Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images)

The 2022 WNBA Commissioner’s Cup final tips off at 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, with the Las Vegas Aces and Chicago Sky set to face off in what could serve as a preview for the WNBA Finals.

The two teams have split their two regular-season meetings this year, each winning on the opposing team’s home court. While the Aces dominated the first quarter in their most recent matchup on June 21, Chicago staged the largest comeback in league history to take the win.

With the teams holding steady atop the league standings, the Commissioner’s Cup championship game promises to be a must-watch contest.

Why Chicago will win

The Chicago Sky are the league’s best team, with the record (21-7) and the stats (tops in the WNBA in effective field-goal percentage) to back it up.

The Sky will win the Commissioner’s Cup because they play the team game better than anyone else. No single player stands out in terms of scoring: Kahleah Copper is the team’s highest scorer at 14.7 points per game but ranks 20th in the league. Candace Parker has been a triple-double machine this season, but she ranks 25th with 13.4 points per game, while 2019 Finals MVP Emma Meesseman is 32nd with 12.7.

Yet while Chicago may not have gaudy point totals, the team leads the league in assists with 24 per game. Courtney Vandersloot ranks second in the league with 6.2 per game.

“A win for one is a win for all with us,” Sky coach James Wade said on the Chicago State of Mind podcast this week. “That’s how it is. Just like a 20-point game [by one player] is a 20-point game for all. And that’s how we looked at it. I’m telling you, those players deserve a lot of credit because they don’t have to be that way. But they are, because they all want to win so bad and they know that if you’re like that, that helps it.”

The Sky have won eight of their last 10, though they’re coming off of a loss to the New York Liberty. The loss came in their third game in four days, and they also faced flight delays on their way to New York. But take this into consideration: The Sky have yet to lose back-to-back games this season.

Consistency has been the key for Chicago as it looks to win its second straight WNBA title, and that will remain true Tuesday as the Sky look to win the Commissioner’s Cup.

Why Las Vegas will win

Before Chicago took over the top spot in the league standings, Las Vegas owned that distinction. But prior to the All-Star Game, the Aces looked a bit lost, losing five of seven. They’ve since righted the ship and have won their last two, as well as six of their last 10.

The Aces also currently boast three of the league’s top 10 scorers. Kelsey Plum leads the way with 20.1 points per game, followed by A’ja Wilson (19.4) in fifth and Jackie Young (16.3) in 10th. Wilson ranks second in the league in rebounds (9.7 per game), while Chelsea Gray ranks fourth in assists (6.1 per game).

As the best offensive team in the WNBA – Las Vegas leads the league in points per game (90.4) – the Aces have the power to overtake Chicago. They’re also a better team on the road than at home, with a 10-3 road record.

“Actually, we’ve been better on the road than at home, so hopefully that trend continues,” coach Becky Hammon said. “I have to do a good job of getting them the proper rest vs. keeping them sharp. We are literally making a whole circle around the United States. It hits every team at some point. But I think the road has been good for us with that foxhole mentality.”

The only question for the Aces is their defense. But Hammon called Saturday’s 84-66 win against the Los Angeles Sparks one of the team’s better all-around defensive efforts.

Watch the Sky and the Aces face off in the Commissioner’s Cup final at 8:30 p.m. ET Tuesday on Amazon Prime.