Let’s relive the Las Vegas Aces’ 2022 road to a championship!
October 2, 2020: Las Vegas Aces get swept in WNBA Finals
Where did the Las Vegas Aces’ road to a championship begin? Many believe the team got on the right path the second Becky Hammon was signed as head coach, but that’s not exactly true. Hammon might have been the missing piece that drove the team to new heights, but she isn’t the origin story of this championship.
That honor goes to the Aces getting swept by the Seattle Storm in the 2020 WNBA Finals. Las Vegas even got outscored 92-59 in the final game. Of course, the Aces didn’t have Liz Cambge or Kelsey Plum due to injuries and health concerns, but it was still a crushing blow. That embarrassing loss gave the team the push they needed.
2021 Free agency period: Las Vegas stacks the deck with big weapons
The Las Vegas Aces had a pretty good starting lineup at this point but lacked the depth that could take them further. What they needed were new players who could complement these starters and allow them time to rest. This led the Aces to sign a few big names in free agency.
It started with former Los Angeles Sparks, Chelsea Gray, who would go on to be named Finals MVP in 2022! She helped to ensure that the team had another scorer and a great defensive threat. They then added fellow Spark, Riquna Williams, who slowly came into her own as a member of the Aces’ organization.
October 8, 2021: The Aces lose a pivotal game in the semi-finals
Fast forward a few months and the Aces found themselves in a very similar position to 2020. They had an impressive year and were competitive in their playoff series against the Mercury, but they broke down in a must-win game 5.
December 2021: Becky Hammon signed as the new Head coach
One of the biggest moments in this championship run had to be the addition of Becky Hammon as head coach. She became the first female WNBA coach in December of 2021 and hasn’t looked back since. She originally served under Greg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
Hammon actually interviewed for several NBA head coaching jobs but was always turned down due to a lack of experience. Fortunately for the former WNBA star, Bill Laimbeer retired, and the Aces settled on Hammon to fill the role. It was a match made in heaven, and the stage was finally set for big things to happen.
May 10, 2022: Las Vegas Aces take the first loss of the season to the Washington Mystics
It’s no secret that the road to a championship almost always takes a detour through adversity. The first sign that this wasn’t a perfect team had to be their 89-76 loss to the Washington Mystics. This marked Becky Hammon’s first regular season loss as a coach and served as a real setback.
May 31, 2022: The Las Vegas Aces win seven games in a row
There are just no words to describe the tear that the Las Vegas Aces went on between May 11 – 31. Not only did the Aces knock off seven straight opponents, but they were also a who’s who of WNBA playoff contenders. These included teams like the Phoenix Mercury, the Chicago Sky, and the Connecticut sun.
This was a massive accomplishment for Hammon and her team. It also showed just how much depth they had at every position.
July 24, 2022: The Las Vegas Aces clinch a spot in the playoffs with a win over the Los Angeles sparks
Becky Hammon and the Las Vegas Aces accomplished a lot up to this point, so clinching a playoff spot was expected. They accomplished this with a 20-8 record and a close win over the Los Angeles Sparks. Las Vegas even had the best record in the league.
August 20, 2022: Las Vegas Aces cruise to first playoff Series win under Becky Hammon
Another big turning point for the Las Vegas Aces in 2022 is when they showed their playoff prowess against the Phoenix Mercury. Keep in mind that this was a team that had handed them a loss a year earlier. Now the Aces would have a chance to return the favor, and it started with a 79-63 win in game one.
Las Vegas sealed the deal a few days later with an astonishing 117-80 victory against the Mercury. The win also showed just how dominant the Aces could be when Hammon utilized stars like A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum, and Chelsea Grey effectively.
September 6, 2022: The Las Vegas Aces win three straight games to advance to the WNBA Finals
The Aces pulled off some impressive streaks in 2022, but nothing compared to beating the Seattle Storm in three straight games. The first was a 78-73 victory that saw A’ja Wilson put up 33 points and 13 rebounds. She was followed up by Chelsea Grey, who put up 19 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists.
What made this victory even more interesting was how the Aces were trailing the Storm at the end of the first quarter. They were even down by seven at the end of the period and looked to be on the verge of another breakdown. The Aces were able to tie the series at halftime though and eventually went on to win by five.
The Aces would win games three and four in spectacular fashion, sending them to the Finals for the first time since 2020. Las Vegas even blew out the Storm in a 12-point thrashing of epic proportions. The stage was now set for the Aces to face the Connecticut Suns for the WNBA Title.
September 13, 2022: The Las Vegas Aces win back-to-back games to start the Finals!
Las Vegas needed to make a statement to start the Finals and everything was coming up Aces. The team won the first two games of the series, including an 85-71 blowout. Between that and a razor-thin 67-64 victory in game one, it looked like the Aces were unstoppable.
The 14-point thrashing against The Suns was a particular high point in the series. A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Grey, and Kelsey Plum all put up 20 points! Wilson even racked up a double-double that night with ten rebounds.
September 18, 2022: The Las Vegas Aces win the WNBA Title after a 78-71 victory against the Suns
Two years after a very embarrassing sweep in the 2020 WNBA Finals, the Las Vegas Aces were finally champions. Becky Hammon definitely led the way, but A’ja Wilson, Chelsea Grey, and Kelsey Plum perfected her strategy on the court. The supporting cast of Jackie Young, Riquna Williams, and Kiah Stokes only helped to ensure victory.
This culminated in a 78-71 win and a championship that will be remembered forever. It is also the first professional sports title in Las Vegas history! Hammon, who was already named Coach of The Year, became the first female coach to win a WNBA Championship. She will now have the opportunity to become the first female coach to win back-to-back titles in the WNBA.