Just one #WNBA game on the schedule tonight, but it’s an excellent one as the New York Liberty visit the Las Vegas Aces, who carry a franchise-record 20-game home winning streak into this Commissioner’s Cup championship matchup. The Aces are 7-point favorites, but the SBIA model has some leans on the Liberty as well as a strong one on the total of 176.5 points, which it projects as “off” by around 7 points.
It's only the third game in WNBA history between teams that enter with records of 24-6 or better.
What’s the Commissioner’s Cup? It’s like what the #NBA is starting this regular season and various soccer leagues have done for many years: An in-season tournament, which in this case has been around since 2021. The Aces went 9-1 in regular season cup play to earn the Western Conference slot in the title game, while the Liberty’s 7-3 record gave them the Eastern spot.
What’s the #CommissionersCup motivation? Pride and a little bonus money as the winning team's players receive $30,000 each and the losing team's players get $10,000. Seattle beat Connecticut in the first title game, and Las Vegas beat Chicago last year.
This also may be a WNBA Finals preview as the Aces lead the league with a 27-3 record, and their 20-game home winning streak is the second-longest in league history behind 28 in a row from the LA Sparks from 2000-02. The 27-3 mark has tied the best-ever 30-game start in an WNBA season. The 1998 Comets finished that season with the record, while the 2000 and 2001 Sparks both started 27-3 and finished 28-4.
Regardless of location, #ALLINLV has 17 wins by at least 15 points this year, a WNBA single-season record. The Aces’ season point differential of +430 would be a record – the 2000 Comets hold it at +409 – and they have 10 regular-season games left, including Thursday at home again vs. the Liberty.
New York has the second-best record in the WNBA at 24-6 and also clinched a playoff spot. The only team to beat Las Vegas since July 8 was the Liberty at home on Aug. 6, a shocking 99-61 rout. Sabrina Ionescu scored 31 points and hit six of New York's 17 3-pointers. The #OWNTHECROWN blew it open by outscoring the Aces 30-9 in the third quarter. New York did lose its lone trip to Las Vegas on June 29 by a score of 98-81.
The visitors enter on a six-game winning streak and in Sunday’s 100-89 win at Indiana, Liberty star Breanna Stewart had 42 points, becoming the first player in WNBA history to score at least 40 points three times in the same season. Stewart joined Diana Taurasi (4) and Maya Moore (3) as the only players to top the 40-point plateau three times in their career. Stewart is set at over-under 22.5 points tonight.
Las Vegas leads the WNBA in nearly every major offensive category and New York is second. The Aces’ 94.0 points per game would break the league record for single-season scoring average should they maintain it through season’s end. Might tonight’s total be too low … ?