Aces’ Chelsea Grey caps historic, unforgettable playoff run with 2022 WNBA Finals MVP

September 19, 2022

When the total participant pool for the 2022 WNBA All-Star Recreation was introduced again in June, one identify was notably absent from the listing: Chelsea Grey. Although maybe not at her greatest within the first half of the season, the veteran level guard was nonetheless one of many league’s main assisters and had the Las Vegas Aces in first place when the names have been introduced. 

Because it turned out, the snub, which ended a streak of 4 consecutive All-Star appearances for Grey, was crucial factor that occurred to the Aces this season. As soon as play resumed after the break, Grey took out all of her frustration and disappointment on the courtroom, utilizing these emotions as gasoline to raise her recreation. 

“I went to go go to my youthful brother and his fiancée, after which we simply relaxed and I took a break from basketball, from social media and every little thing, and simply reset,” Grey stated after Recreation 2. “I bought hungrier and bought in even higher form than I used to be earlier than All-Star Break. I used to be within the gymnasium. I used to be locked in to movie. Simply made it — simply went to a different stage mentally after which I let my — my work ethic convey it alongside.”

On Sunday afternoon, Grey bought the final snicker, capping off one the best particular person playoff runs in skilled basketball historical past with a title and the 2022 WNBA Finals MVP. 

“They’ll maintain that All-Star and that [All-WNBA] First Staff,” Grey stated. “I bought the ring.”

Ending with a game-high 20 factors, 5 rebounds and 6 assists on 9 of 13 from the sector, Grey led the Aces previous the Connecticut Solar, 78-71, in Recreation 4 of the 2022 WNBA Finals to clinch the franchise’s first-ever championship. Over the 4 video games she averaged 18.3 factors and 6 assists, whereas capturing 58 p.c from the sector. 

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“I imply, Chelsea is a gamer,” Aces head coach Becky Hammon stated after the staff gained the Commissioner’s Cup again in July. “She is a large a part of what we do. She is the extension of the coach on the market. Hell, I am her assistant. I inform them on a regular basis, if Chelsea calls one thing and I name one thing, you take heed to Chelsea. When the pinnacle coach calls one thing, you run it.

“However actually, she’s someone who likes huge moments, and she or he likes to take and make huge photographs. To me, she is the cooling issue. When issues get a bit scorching, uncontrolled, the stress begins to rise, she is the cooler.”

These phrases proved prescient. 

Grey’s MVP trophy is for the Finals, however it could as effectively be for your complete playoffs. She was majestic your complete month, placing collectively a postseason that may go down because the stuff of legend, not only for the historic numbers and championship, however the model and issue alongside the best way. 

Over the Aces’ 10 video games, Grey averaged 21.7 factors, 3.8 rebounds, seven assists and 1.2 steals per recreation, whereas capturing 61.1 p.c from the sector and 54.4 p.c from 3-point land. For the playoffs she was second in scoring, first in assists and first in subject aim share. She both scored or assisted on 379 of the Aces’ 860 factors (44 p.c), essentially the most by a single participant in WNBA postseason historical past.

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“I do not suppose anybody on planet Earth can guard her,” Seattle Storm head coach Noelle Quinn stated after Grey eradicated her staff within the semifinals. “She was unconscious. We did a number of issues this collection to attempt to gradual her down. You restrict her scoring; she has the power to cross and play make. She’s an unimaginable participant.”

Within the three collection the Aces performed, Grey shot 57 of 87 on 2s and 31 of 57 on 3s. Her 72.3 true capturing share was the very best ever within the postseason for a participant with at the least 50 subject aim makes an attempt, and she or he’s one in all 4 gamers to shoot higher than 60 p.c from the sector for a whole postseason with a minimal of 100 shot makes an attempt. 

And he or she did so regardless of taking solely 11 makes an attempt on the rim. Almost all of Grey’s seems to be have been soar photographs, with a lot of them off the dribble and well-contested. None of it mattered. Grey shot 64.2 p.c and scored 1.495 factors per possession on off-the-dribble jumpers within the postseason, per Synergy Sports activities, a feat that will by no means be replicated. 

In crunch time she was even higher. At any time when the Aces wanted a basket late in video games, Grey delivered. Six of the Aces’ 10 playoff video games had clutch minutes, outlined as inside 5 factors with 5 or much less minutes remaining. They went 5-1 in these contests, and Grey shot an incomprehensible 78.6 p.c from the sector in these conditions. 

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“I do not actually understand how,” Grey stated after Recreation 4 of the semifinals. “I am going into my photographs like I observe them. It isn’t something completely different.”

Grey might not ever be capable of clarify how these photographs have been getting in, however maybe that is for the very best. Unbelievable moments, video games, collection are what make sports activities particular. We will not at all times know why or how one thing occurred, however we will take pleasure in that it did. And what did occur is that Chelsea Grey performed the very best basketball of her profession and the Las Vegas Aces gained a championship.

In between sips of champagne straight out of the bottle, a jubilant Grey sat on the podium deep inside Mohegan Solar, with A’ja Wilson at her facet and Kelsey Plum interrupting at numerous intervals with a boombox on her shoulder. Her onerous work full, Grey may flip her consideration to a unique form of shot, one which’s by no means onerous to clarify. 

“The photographs will certainly be of tequila,” Grey stated.