In December of last year, the Las Vegas Aces made former WNBA star and eight-year San Antonio Spurs assistant coach, Becky Hammon, the highest-paid coach in the WNBA. The signing looked worthwhile during the first 15 games of the season, as the Aces flaunted the league’s best record at 13-2. Now, although the actual heat in the city of Las Vegas isn’t going away (110º is hot!), its basketball team seems to be cooling off. Are the Aces in trouble?
Since June 21st, the Aces are 2-4, with losses to Chicago, Washington, Seattle, and Minnesota. Fortunately, these are all solid WNBA teams. Chicago, Washington, and Seattle see themselves in the top five of the league regarding record. While Minnesota isn’t in the playoff picture, they have been leading the league in scoring during the past two weeks (91.3 PPG). Regardless of the opposing teams’ talent, the Aces shouldn’t be dropping four of six if they want to accomplish anything come the postseason.
Lack of Effort
During their 2-4 stretch, the Aces just seem a little off, especially on the defensive end. While their loss to Chicago on June 21st did feature Las Vegas setting a franchise record of points scored in a quarter with 41, they also allowed the biggest comeback in WNBA history. The Chicago Sky were once down 28 in the contest, yet went on to defeat the Aces by nine. That’s an effort issue. Letting a team leave an arena with a win after almost being down by 30 is inexcusable for a professional team, let alone one with THREE All-Star starters (Plum, Wilson, Young).
The loss to the Sky isn’t the only ugly loss the Aces have had to deal with recently. Vegas can thank the Lynx for that. To celebrate the Fourth of July a night early, Minnesota erupted with a 102-point outing against the Aces, resulting in a 31-point loss for the Sin City squad.
Becky Hammon was nothing shy of blunt in the post-game press conference, exclaiming that the Lynx, “played harder, much harder,” and that “they wanted the game more. They played smarter, so they won.”
This makes me believe that Hammon understands that her team isn’t playing with the intensity they need to if they want to be the champs in September. Luckily, Hammon understands what needs to be done to make a finals, since she was a part of the 2008 San Antonio Silver Stars team that lost to the Detroit Shock in the final round of the playoffs.
But, she’s never won a WNBA championship. Hopefully her several years as an assistant on Greg Popovich’s San Antonio Spurs staff will allow her and the Aces to accomplish the ultimate goal. I certainly think Hammon will be able to get the star studded Aces squad back on track, but we’ll just have to wait and see.