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Sky-Aces: Previewing the 2022 Commissioner’s Cup Championship

1 year agoKarli Bell

The Chicago Sky checked off one of their goals for the 2022 season: making the Commissioner’s Cup Championship. 

“It’s a nice goal to have to start the season,” Allie Quigley said. “To go into the Commissioner’s Cup at 9-1 and have a chance to win a little bit of a championship during the season will be good for us.”

Chicago will host the Las Vegas Aces for the title on July 26 at 7:30 p.m.

What’s the Commissioner’s Cup?

The Commissioner’s Cup began in 2021. Each team plays 10 designated “Cup Games” per season. These games are the first road and home game against each team’s five conference rivals. 

After the 10 games are played, the top teams in the Eastern and Western conferences play a championship game with a prize pool of $500,000. The winning team gets $30,000 per player, the MVP gets an extra $5,000 and the losing team gets $10,000 per player.

There’s also a charity aspect to it as well. At the start of the season, each team picked a local charitable organization that will eventually earn donations from the WNBA.

Over each of the 10 “Cup Games,” the winning team’s nonprofit received a $2,000 donation from the league. In the championship game, the winning team’s organization will receive a $10,000 donation and $5,000 to the runner-up.

Chicago’s charity of choice is My Block My City My Hood and have already raised $18,000 for the organization. 

“We want to be connected to the community of Chicago,” head coach/general manager James Wade said. “Chicago is such a diverse town. The closer we are to the heart of the city, the more diverse it and the more it actually represents who we are. We want to give back to the community as much as we can.”

The Sky’s history vs. Aces in 2022

The Sky went 1-1 against the Las Vegas Aces this season, the win being the historic 28-point comeback in Sin City. Over the two games this season, Chicago has just outscored the Aces, 180-178. 

In their first meeting in May, Las Vegas was riding a five game winning streak heading into the matchup. That momentum gave them an early lead and run-away win, 83-76. A’ja Wilson took control while Chicago overall struggled, shooting a dismal 34.6% from the field.

The second matchup made history on June 21st. The Aces put up a 41-point first quarter and led by as much as 28 points. Chicago clamored their way back in, outscoring the Aces 59-25 entering the final quarter of play before picking up the 104-95 victory.

Previewing the game

Many speculate this game could be a preview of the 2022 WNBA Finals. However, Wade is viewing this matchup in a different light.

“I just want the title,” Wade said. “It’s an opportunity for us at this point in the season to really gain some really valuable championship experience. We want to be champions.”

Since their last meeting, the Sky have gone 11-2 while the Aces went 7-5. That June 21 win over the Aces was the start to a 5-game winning streak for Chicago. 

Overall, this is an even matchup. Las Vegas leads the league in points per game (90.4), 3-pointers made (268) and 3-point percentage (35.9%). While the Aces love the arc, the Sky love to share the ball across the floor, leading the WNBA in field goal percentage (47.6%) and assists per game (23.8).

The biggest threats on the Aces are Wilson and WNBA All-Star MVP Kelsey Plum. Both average around 20 points per game, but don’t sleep on the full starting lineup. They lead the WNBA in points per game with an average of 46.8 over the 25 games they’ve played together.

Where the Aces rely heavily on the starting five, Chicago has a deep bench. Kahleah Copper leads the team in scoring with 14.8 points per game, but it can be anyone’s night. Emma Meesseman, Allie Quigley, Azurá Stevens, Rebekah Gardner and Candace Parker have hit season-highs in scoring at different points this season.

As far as injuries go, Chicago will get Courtney Vandersloot back for the Commissioner’s Cup Championship game after going through concussion protocol. Las Vegas will be at full strength.

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