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WNBA title contenders promise interesting matchups for Aces

The sixth-seeded Chicago Sky defied the experts last season and won the WNBA championship. The Review-Journal does not see a similar Cinderella champion this season.

Here is a capsule look at the four teams who figure to be the main obstacles as the Aces seek their first title.

CHICAGO SKY

Regular Season record: 26-10

Vs. the Aces: 1-2

First round opponent: New York Liberty

Coach: James Wade

Key players to watch: Candace Parker, Kahleah Copper, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley

Intangibles: The reigning champions took a few weeks to find their footing entering the 2022 season, but have proven themselves to be one of the most consistent teams in the league. Led by veteran point guard Courtney Vandersloot, the Sky lead the WNBA with 24.28 assists per game.

Age could be a factor. Vandersloot, sharpshooter Allie Quigley and former MVP Candace Parker are also all in their mid-to-late 30s. Chicago’s balanced roster also raises questions about where the scoring will come from. All-Star wing Kahleah Copper leads the team with 15.7 points per game, ranked No. 13 in the league.

WASHINGTON MYSTICS

Regular-season record: 22-14

Vs. the Aces: 3-0

First round opponent: Seattle Storm

Head coach: Mike Thibault

Key players to watch: Elena Delle Donne, Ariel Atkins, Natasha Cloud

Intangibles: The Mystics are the only team to sweep the Aces this season. Featuring the tenacious backcourt duo of Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins, Washington has been one of the league’s premier defenses this season. Cloud also led the league in assists this season.

Add in a two-time MVP in Elena Delle Donne, whose health allowed her to play 25 games this season, and the Mystics are a formidable team.

SEATTLE STORM

Regular-season record: 22-14

Vs. the Aces: 1-3

First round opponent: Washington Mystics

Head coach: Noelle Quinn

Key players to watch: Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd, Tina Charles

Intangibles: Sue Bird will play her final postseason this year, and the Storm are desperate to add one more championship to send her off in style.

With Brianna Stewart leading the league in scoring this season and in heavy consideration for the MVP, Seattle is more than a legitimate contender. However, the offense can stagnate at times. Plus, Seattle’s size has been an issue as they rank near the bottom of the league in rebounding.

CONNECTICUT SUN

Regular-season record: 25-11

Vs. the Aces: 1-2

First round opponent: Dallas Wings

Head coach: Curt Miller

Key players to watch: Jonquel Jones, Alyssa Thomas, DeWanna Bonner, Brionna Jones

Intangibles: One of the biggest teams in the league, the Sun were the best team in the Eastern Conference at the beginning of the season. Led by 2021 MVP Jonquel Jones and leading sixth player of the year candidate Brionna Jones, they are one of the premier rebounding teams in the league.

They’re also the most efficient 3-point shooting team, though the Sun is also the most selective.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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