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Leaning on home crowd, Aces eager to get past Liberty in Game 2

As if the best team in the WNBA needed any more advantages, the Las Vegas Aces have been able to capitalize on the comforts of home.

Now the top-seeded Aces will set out to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the WNBA Finals over the second-seeded New York Liberty on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.

The Aces opened the best-of-five series with a 99-82 home victory over the Liberty, outscoring them by 20 in the second half to pull away.

In addition to improving to 6-0 this postseason — with four wins coming by 14 points or better — they also won their eighth straight home playoff game dating back to the 2022 semifinal round.

Kelsey Plum pointed out that the Aces, who have had to play only two road games (regular season or playoffs) since Aug. 31, have benefited from using the wellness resources at their team facility for this extended stretch.

“You’re also sleeping in your own bed, you’re eating your own food. There’s just things that, it’s a familiarity, but it really does make a difference,” Plum said.

“We work really hard to be the No. 1 team, to be able to be home to benefit from that stuff later in the season. … It’s really cool that everyone cares enough to really lock in, and that’s why we’re in the position we’re in now.”

Plum and Jackie Young each scored 26 points on Sunday, setting personal playoff highs. Chelsea Gray had 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds, and A’ja Wilson added 19 points and eight rebounds.

For the Liberty, Breanna Stewart had a team-high 21 points with nine rebounds in Game 1. Jonquel Jones added 16 points and 10 boards.

Marine Johannes came off the bench for New York to set a career playoff high with 14 points. She made four 3-pointers but was held scoreless in the second half.

“Marine was phenomenal,” Plum said. “She was hitting threes off one leg and fading to the left, to the right. In the second half, obviously we had a lot more emphasis on her.”

New York veteran Betnijah Laney said the Liberty don’t have anything to “sweat over” just yet.

“Just knowing where we kind of lacked and knowing what we’re capable of, and then just trying to go out and put two and two together,” Laney said.

The Liberty do have players with WNBA Finals experience to lean on, as Stewart won two titles with Seattle and Jones reached the finals twice with Connecticut.

“It’s more about … being our best selves,” Laney said. “We do that, we get three wins and we’re champions.”

–Field Level Media

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