WNBA Week 2: The Unbeatable Aces, BG’s Resilience, Match of the Week

The second week of the 2023 WNBA season is within the books! The Aces stay undefeated, the Lynx lastly acquired a win, Chicago is displaying us and everyone else, and what on this planet is occurring with the Mystics. Natalie and Heather are hashing all of it out of their WNBA weekly chat — now with a Match of the Week from EIC Carmen Phillips!

Heather: Natalie, howdy! How are you feeling after destroying me at WNBA Fantasy Basketball over the weekend?

Natalie: Ha! Nicely, it appears like a small slice of redemption after you beat me in final 12 months’s Fantasy Basketball championship. But it surely wouldn’t have been doable with out the protection the Indiana Fever performed on Kelsey Plum yesterday, limiting her to 9 factors on 4 of 15 taking pictures. The Aces had been capable of squeak out a win however they actually didn’t look as infallible as they did in Week One. What’d you consider that recreation and the way the Aces performed general throughout Week Two?

Heather: There have been so many good, shut video games this weekend, however I do need to say that the Aces/Fever on Sunday was my favourite. Throughout week one, my spouse — who, by the way in which, is rooting for YOU at fantasy basketball — sincerely requested me if I assumed the Aces would go undefeated. I used to be like, “No method, this league is method too aggressive for them to not lose a single recreation,” however they did really feel untouchable for a minute there. Particularly when the Liberty, the opposite “tremendous group” that was being tossed round in the identical breath because the Aces, have struggled a lot.

It felt good to see the Aces come again all the way down to earth, particularly by the hands of the Fever! You and I’ve been huge Aliyah Boston believers, and, I believe, each very impressed with how briskly she’s climbing that W studying curve. And positively she’s making an enormous distinction in that group! However A’ja Wilson held her to seven and the Fever nonetheless had them on the ropes till the buzzer. There’s one thing cool occurring in Indiana and I’m thrilled to see it. In the meantime, the Aces? Yeah, they’re residing on earth with us mere mortals once more, however they nonetheless do appear to be a group that’s poised to win one other championship at this level.

What excited you throughout Week 2?

Natalie: Nicely, first, thanks to Stacy for the help!

I undoubtedly agree with you that I don’t assume the Aces will go undefeated this season. I believe they’ve look susceptible in opposition to the Dream and the Fever and now they’re heading to Connecticut for a match-up with Alyssa Thomas and the Solar on Tuesday…so it appears like a matter of time earlier than the parity within the league catches up with them. I’ve mentioned, in all probability for the final 12 months or so, that I’ve been fearful in regards to the minutes that the Aces are placing on their starters and I’m questioning if we’re beginning to see the results of that now. Neither Plum nor Chelsea Grey appeared as much as par yesterday…we’ll see how they maintain up for the remainder of this Aces roadtrip.

I don’t understand how a lot the Aces did to comprise Boston…I believe they acquired bailed out by the refs who saddled her with early fouls which acquired her despatched to the bench. Fortunately, the Fever had some nice contributions off the bench…from Queen Egbo, Victoria Vivians and Kristy Wallace…and so the Fever had been capable of keep aggressive. I do marvel what sort of psychological affect a loss like that has, although? I imply, they had been rightthere…so near beating the defending champions. I hope they will rebound.

However you’re proper, this weekend was stuffed with so many shut video games…and WNBA Motion on Friday nights on ION has turn out to be must-see TV for me.

Heather: That’s a extremely good level! In truth that’s a number of actually good factors! I believe the Fever have embraced their underdog standing and I believe they’ve this mentality that they’re going to go on the market, each recreation, and simply give absolute hell to whoever they’re taking part in. They’re going to chew and claw their option to respect and I believe that works for them! You recognize who else that mindset is working for? The Chicago Sky! They’re going to drop some video games they need to win, particularly with Rebekah Gardner sidelined with a foot damage — however they’re additionally going to compete in each single recreation. They’re not going away. Simply have a look at what they did to the Liberty yesterday! I do know lots of people wish to blame that Liberty loss on officiating, however the Liberty blew an nearly 20-point halftime lead due to the Sky’s swarming protection and had completely no reply for Kahleah Copper! Kah had 47 factors and 16 rebounds within the Sky/Liberty double-header.

Natalie: And he or she acquired damage! (My fantasy group thanks her for her factors!)

Heather: Natalie, when she went down, I screamed on the TV for actual. I used to be SO relieved to see her again at it after the half. I believe one of many important themes of this Liberty/Sky weekend is that the Sky look so significantly better than everybody thought they might and the Liberty look so, a lot worse.

Natalie: Between the Aces/Fever and the Sky/Liberty recreation, it was undoubtedly not an amazing showcase for refereeing within the WNBA however, such as you say…the Liberty undoubtedly need to take accountability for giving up that vast lead and letting the Sky claw their method again into it. I don’t perceive how you’ve that many offensive weapons on the ground after which get outscored 30-17 in that fourth quarter.

I believe when the Liberty introduced Courtney Vandersloot, Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones collectively…not solely had been folks simply excited to see that stage of expertise unite however there have been of us continually reminding us that they’d performed collectively abroad.

Heather: Agree and agree!

Natalie: You see none of that chemistry when that assortment of gamers is on the market. As for the Sky, two issues stand out: first, after all, Kahleah Copper who’s simply refusing to let the naysayers be proper in regards to the Chicago Sky. She’s simply balling.

And second, the protection. Did you assume {that a} group that features Kahleah Copper, Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey could be so scrappy on the defensive finish? I positive as hell didn’t. They pressured the Liberty into 16 turnovers and had 4 steals on high of that.

Heather: I wholeheartedly agree with each of these issues. Did you additionally assume a group that features Kahleah Copper, Courtney Williams and Marina Mabrey could be so good at ball motion? So able to move up a very good shot for an amazing shot? That’s among the best shot-creation trios within the league they usually’ve all turn out to be little help goblins on high of it!

You recognize what shocked the heck out of me throughout this matchup? Within the first Liberty/Sky matchup, which the Liberty ended up successful by one, Sandy Brondello had Sabrina Ionescu and Jonquel Jones on the bench on the finish of the sport, selecting Kayla Thornton and Marine Johannes in that clutch second as an alternative. It labored out — however I simply saved pondering: of their complete careers, all the way in which again to love elementary faculty, have Sabrina and JJ ever been sidelined on goal in huge moments? It does converse to the weird chemistry occurring in New York, and the truth that even their head coach isn’t positive what to do about it. One factor that basically stunned me is, after that Friday evening recreation, I noticed Stewie blast previous a bunch of little women ready for autographs and I’ve actually by no means seen her try this. She appeared livid, despite the fact that they gained.

Natalie: You’re proper, I can’t think about both of them having been in that place earlier than. I mentioned from the start of the season that I’m leery of super-teams as a result of they don’t work out extra usually than they do…and New York is unquestionably proving that time. They’ve to determine their spacing. They (learn: Sabrina) need to be taught their roles throughout the new offense. They need to be taught to be extra aggressive on protection. One thing has to vary in New York…

Altering gears: what’d you concentrate on Minnesota getting their first win of the season?

Heather: Nicely, I believe Napheesa Collier had one thing to show to you, personally! She appeared just like the Phee of Future in opposition to Washington! (Man your fantasy group actually was subsequent stage this week!) I used to be so glad to see them get a win, and never simply because it appeared like Cheryl Reeve was prepared to start out feeding them right into a volcano as sacrifices, one after the other, till issues rotated.
The Lynx had been clearly going to battle this 12 months. Shedding Sylvia Fowles? Come on. However I don’t assume anybody anticipated them to start out 0-6.

Natalie: Wait, grasp on. Phee had the massive recreation in opposition to Connecticut, not Washington.

Heather: Oh proper! Sure!

Natalie: She returned to regular in opposition to Washington.

Heather: Returned to regular, lol.

Natalie: SMH. I’m grateful that Minnesota acquired their first win however I nonetheless have so many questions on what’s occurring with the Lynx this season. Napheesa Collier drops 30 in opposition to an excellent Connecticut group on Thursday and I’m pondering, “Lastly! That is the Phee I’ve been ready to see,” however then she regresses to the imply in opposition to the Mystics on Saturday. Kayla McBride’s shot lastly begins falling in opposition to the Mystics after taking pictures a paltry 27% in opposition to the Solar. After which there’s Aerial Powers…who the hell is aware of what’s occurring there…

I simply need some consistency.

As you mentioned, I didn’t have excessive expectations after the lack of Fowles and Natalie Achonwa’s being pregnant however this nonetheless falls in need of what I used to be anticipating from a Reeves coached group.

Heather: I agree. And I really feel assured Cheryl Reeves agrees!

Natalie: Do you assume Cheryl Reeves is able to tanking? As a result of that’s a query individuals are asking, proper…like how a lot of that is positioning for the 2024 WNBA Draft?

Heather: Yeah, and that’s such a harmful path! I imply, have a look at Sabrina Ionescu (Caitlin Clark 1.0) and her trajectory. The Liberty positioned themselves to construct a dynasty on her and now she’s not even on the ground on the finish of a one-point recreation!

Natalie: I used to be speaking to a Lynx fan over the weekend and we debated this query…and I do assume the Lynx are tanking however not in a traditional method. It is a group that knew that they weren’t going to have Syl, they knew they weren’t going to have Achonwa, they’d questions on the PG slot…after which throughout free company, they did completely nothing. Like, it’s not clear they even tried when there was a lot expertise obtainable they usually had so many apparent wants. It simply by no means made sense to me….however now, with this unimaginable draft class looming, it feels prefer it was all a acutely aware selection.

Heather: It’s exhausting to disclaim that’s what’s occurring, and I agree that free company was the massive inform!

Natalie: On the flip aspect of that, can we speak in regards to the Mystics? What the hell is occurring with the Mystics?

Heather: The Mystics are so in all places I don’t even know what to say about them! One minute they seem like some sort of celebrity dynasty of yore, and the subsequent minute they’re shedding to the Lynx! And I actually can’t even work out precisely what’s flawed with them! Elena Delle Donne’s averaging 30+ minutes for the primary time in ages, and she or he appears nice! They appear poised to separate with Seattle — Seattle! — this week.

Natalie: With the Mystics, I’m simply so disillusioned by this group. I had such excessive hopes. And I don’t know what the problem is, actually? Eric Thibault’s been the assistant coach of this squad for years now so I didn’t assume there’d be a giant adjustment to the teaching change…however possibly that’s it. Or possibly the Mystics had been so targeted on getting the core of that 2019 championship squad again collectively with out acknowledging that Father Time is really undefeated and the group appears a step slower than they did after they gained the title.

Heather: Oof that’s so actual! However then! You flip round and have a look at, say, Alyssa Thomas who looks as if she’s held along with duct tape and pure grit at this level, and she or he’s nonetheless on triple double watch each recreation! That is such a wild and unpredictable season, on a group and particular person stage, and I sort of love that.

Natalie: Each. Single. Recreation. Triple Double Watch.

Heather: It’s unreal. I really like to observe her play! What else is stunning you to date this season?

Natalie: I imply, I hate to be predictable however the largest shock for me stays how good Brittney Griner appears. It defies all logic that she’s on the market, taking part in at such a excessive stage, after having been away from the sport so lengthy and after having gone by what she has. Now, do I want she had a greater group round her and a greater coach? Sure, completely. However nonetheless. She’s a fucking marvel.

What about you?

Heather: Absolute similar. She appears nearly as good as she has ever been, simply completely dominate. And actually I’m stunned I’m STILL getting SO emotional about it. Had one other sobby meltdown simply yesterday over this picture. After every thing she’s been by, how a lot she’s STILL giving? God what a hero!

Natalie: So right here’s a query, Heather: Does Skylar Diggins-Smith come again this season?

Heather: Oh man. I hope she will take on a regular basis she wants! But in addition, the Mercury NEED her. I’m making an attempt to recollect when Phee had her child as a result of she was again on the finish of final season, however that was rather a lot as a result of she wished to play one final time with Syl. What do you assume?

Natalie: Clearly, I believe she ought to do what’s finest for her and her household…however, on the similar time, I don’t understand how, if BG asks her to return again, she says no?

Heather: Yep!

Natalie: I believe we’ve had a few gamers in WNBA historical past come again shortly after pregnancies — Phee, as you identified, and Dearica Hamby, most lately — however I don’t know that we should always normalize that.

Nonetheless, although, if BG asks…

Hell, I’d go well with up for the Mercury if BG requested.

Heather: That’s precisely how I really feel!

Natalie: That’d be actually unhealthy for everyone, although. Don’t ask me, BG!

Heather: Think about us saying that two years in the past! That we’d placed on MERCURY JERSEYS.

Natalie: Think about!

Heather: I simply imagined Cherelle Griner winking at us from her court-side seat and us operating into the wall or one thing.

Natalie: Sounds about proper. At the very least DT wouldn’t be the one fossil on the group then

Heather: HAHAHAHA!!!

Okay and now! Allow us to flip it over to Autostraddle Editor in Chief/femme sports activities legend Carmen Phillips for the WNBA Pre-Recreation Match of the Week!

Carmen: Okay, it’s a bit corny however actually the most effective match was Satisfaction Evening in Indiana. Erica Wheeler and Nalyssa Smith popping out with the rainbow arch behind them? Hearth.

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