Can Chelsea Gray lead the Aces to a second consecutive WNBA championship?


Las Vegas—Chelsea Gray’s Favorite Cooking with her family is like playing basketball with her Las Vegas Aces.

“Our extended family time was always in the kitchen,” Gray said of growing up in California. “My parents and brother were chopping things up and figuring out what we were going to do.”

She now jokes that while her wife does “pretty much everything else,” Gray is the main cook in the family. Turkey meatballs are one of her specialties.

The man who is so good at putting together his favorite dishes is also good at curating ace dishes. Gray – nicknamed “Point Gawd” around the league – the Aces look to take a commanding lead in Game 2 of the WNBA Finals on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, / App) at Michelob Ultra Arena Defeated the New York Liberty.

In Sunday’s best-of-five series opener, which the Aces won 99-82, Gray had 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds amid Liberty’s inability to slow down its perimeter attack. In the regular season, she averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 assists per game; she averaged 16.7 and 6.8 in the playoffs.

When Gray joined the Aces as a free agent in 2021, she was the missing ingredient for the Aces. The Aces have three former No. 1 draft picks: Aja Wilson, Jackie Young and Kelsey Plumb. Gray helped them reach another level.

The Aces competed in the 2020 WNBA Finals but were swept by the Seattle Storm. In 2021, the Aces lost to the Phoenix Mercury in the semifinals. Gray had a stellar playoff run last year as Las Vegas defeated the Connecticut Sun to win the championship.

“That’s why they call her Point Gawd,” Plum said. “Because God saves.”

last year’s title For Gray, who was drafted by the Suns in 2014, it was a full-circle moment.

“I’ll never forget this: The Connecticut Sun gave me a chance,” Gray said.

Gray won the WNBA Finals MVP last season and hopes to lead the Aces to another championship. With two WNBA championships and an Olympic gold medal on her resume, she has cemented herself as one of the best point guards in the league after nine years in the league.

This is not always the case. Gray’s college career at Duke ended with a fractured kneecap in January 2014, a year after another knee injury ended her junior season.

“This is rock bottom,” Gray said. “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I kept going back to my mom and dad, and they were like, ‘Listen, no matter what happens, you have a degree.'” Man, this is hard. “

At 21 years old, Gray didn’t know if he would be able to fulfill his childhood dream. She grew up a fan of the WNBA’s Sacramento Monarchs and their point guard Ticha Penicheiro.

But in the 2014 draft, UConn selected Gray with the 11th overall pick, and she missed that season to rehab. In 2015, she served as a substitute for the Suns, averaging 6.9 points and 2.7 assists per game.

“Big games, big moments, we know she’s going to be great.”

Coach Betsy Harmon talks Chelsea Gray

Then a deal happened that changed her trajectory. In 2016, Gray joined the Los Angeles Sparks and helped the team win the WNBA championship. The Sparks veteran helped her turn into a pro.

“Being around players like Candace Parker and Alana Beard taught me a lot,” Gray said. “Like how to think ahead, understand scouts, how to approach each game and how to prepare for the playoffs.

“I try to absorb everything from them, whether it’s on the court or at dinner. It opens your mind to a lot of possibilities and strategies.”

Gray’s accuracy is It also goes well with her talent. As she puts it, she “really enjoys” playing it. Aces coach Becky Hammon said Gray thinks the level of the sport is higher than anyone she’s ever coached.

“She’s one of the most competitive people I know,” Harmon said. “You feel really good when Chelsea joins your team. Big games, big moments and we know she will perform very well.

“And she’s a learner. If we’re not playing well, she’s going to go back and watch it and take it personally. Her scoring and passing will always be there. But her rebounding ability and defensive ability right now are there. The difference – our manufacturers.”

The connection between Harmon and Gray is immediate. Hammon spent 16 years as a point guard in the WNBA and was a player who relied on his intelligence, fighting spirit and competitiveness to achieve great results. Harmon said Gray has extra talent, but all the things that made Harmon successful are also present in Gray.

“You have to have a big vision, but if you don’t have the people in place, it’s not going to work,” Gray said. “You’re going to see a lot of mistakes pile up. But I also think with maturity comes some freedom. I worked with a Trusting my coach to be there. Like, how many times has she seen the behind-the-back pass go and not go.

“I also watch a lot of movies and know where people are going to go. If you do that, your IQ goes to another level.”

Gray has been years away from the uncertainty he felt entering the league. Yet those times were not entirely dim yet. In some ways, they still inspire Gray.

“Sometimes I’ve been told that I play with grace,” Gray said. “I think that’s a good word. Yeah, there were a lot of moments that were pretty intense or I might have yelled. But I think my joy in playing comes from those memories where I really didn’t know if I was going to go .keep playing because of my knee.

“Now, all these years later, I’m here. I’ve become a WNBA champion; I’ve become an Olympian. The route I’ve taken is a little crazy. It’s not instant gratification. But I think the journey I play shows. “

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