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Sam Gordon: Hammon says Aces poised for postseason run

Sam Gordon, Las Vegas Review-Journal on

Published in Basketball

The Aces won 12 of their final 15 games — including the Commissioner’s Cup championship — to clinch the No. 1 seed in the WNBA playoffs. Their offense (111.9 points per 100 possessions) is the best in the league, and they’re defending better than ever after a stretch of apathy ignited a mid-season swoon.

But Becky Hammon still isn’t comfortable.

“You never feel comfortable,” the first-year coach explained Tuesday after practice at Michelob Ultra Arena. “Because you’ve been in enough situations, I’ve seen enough basketball games, where the best team doesn’t always win. … We (need to) do what we’re supposed to do and impose our will and fingerprint on the game. We don’t want to come in being reactionary, on offense or defense.”

That is the message Hammon has preached all season and it didn’t change one iota on the eve of Aces’ Wednesday playoff opener against the Phoenix Mercury. The Aces were the best team this season and they will win — if they deploy their free-flowing, unselfish offense and defend with enthusiasm.

Don’t mistake Hammon’s discomfort for doubt.

“I have the utmost confidence in my team,” Hammon said. “It’s about being in the moment and finishing and letting those past experiences and those tools that you’ve learned and the toughness that you’ve learned affect this moment right now.”

 

‘Harder to scout’

The Aces probably should have won the 2021 championship, boasting the first team ever with seven double-figure scorers and depth in the frontcourt and on the perimeter.

A heartbreaking Game 5 loss to the Mercury in the semifinals necessitated change.

A heartbreaking loss necessitated the arrival of Hammon after eight years with the San Antonio Spurs under five-time NBA champion Gregg Popovich.

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