Lots of money in line for Seattle, Connecticut in the WNBA Commissioner’s Cup

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Seattle Storm players have the gold, but it could help the Connecticut Sun end up with more money.

Because Seattle’s Big Three – Breanna Stewart, Sue Bird, Jewell Loyd – and two others were absent from the Olympics during the WNBA break, Connecticut had more time to prepare as a full squad for the inaugural final of the Commissioner’s Cup, which will be played Thursday at the Footprint Center.

This should benefit the Sun in a game with $ 500,000 in prize money, enough for the winner ($ 30,000 each) to increase the overall salaries of the lowest paid players by 50%.

“Who doesn’t want an extra $ 30,000 in your pocket? Sun forward DeWanna Bonner said. “Money is great, especially for rookies. I’m going to have to ask for the $ 100 they owe me.”

The Commissioner’s Cup was created to put some juice back into the conference game as the WNBA playoffs have been ranked based on winning percentage regardless of the conference since 2016. After a new collective agreement of eight years was concluded in January 2020, the Commissioner’s Cup was due to debut this season to be delayed due to the pandemic.

This season, the 10 Commissioners’ Commission conference qualifying games took place before the Olympics. Connecticut went 9-1 in the East and Seattle 8-2 in the West, bringing them to Phoenix for a game that will revive the WNBA after Tokyo, not counting in the regular season standings.

Seattle (16-5), Las Vegas (15-6), Connecticut (14-6) and Minnesota (12-7) are in the top four in the WNBA overall standings until July 11. The WNBA All-Star Games were held on July 14 in Las Vegas, a talented American basketball team from the WNBA won the Olympic gold medal on Sunday and now the Commissioner’s Cup final will be another showcase during the league’s 25th silver anniversary season.

“There is a game to play and a game to win,” said Noelle Quinn, who accepted a multi-year extension as Seattle coach on Aug. 5 (she took over that post on May 30 when Dan Hughes retired). “That’s the way we approach it. Obviously money is an important thing for players and pride in winning and being first. There is a lot of fanfare and hype around that.

“If you know the competition we have, we want to feel good, prepared and ready and hopefully be successful.”

Whether this is possible given that Storm players have left for the Olympics is the biggest variable in this game.

Connecticut had their full roster for a two-week training camp but haven’t played a game in nearly five weeks, while Seattle only had half of their players training at home but the rest remained. sharpened in Tokyo.

“Who knows how it’s going to play out,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “I can’t wait to see if we’re ready to play and not play too fast or get too excited. We’ll see what Stewie and Bird have. Being in the first of everything is special.”

Stewart was chosen by FIBA ​​as the Women’s MVP of the Tokyo Olympics after the United States won a seventh consecutive gold medal, bringing their Olympic winning streak to 55 games. She averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds in six Olympic games while averaging an American record of 31 minutes.

“The conditioning won’t necessarily affect Olympians more than a chemical gelling factor,” Quinn said. “I hope it will be transparent. We might not look great on those first possessions. We have to get back in the groove. This game does not impact our record, so there is thanks in there. We don’t put pressure on ourselves to make our players play 40 minutes. “

Seattle’s Katie Lou Samuelson missed the U.S. Olympic team 3×3 due to COVID-19, after testing positive even though she was fully vaccinated. She and other Storm reserves could play a bigger role on Thursday due to Olympic circumstances and Seattle remaining on the road for five straight games starting Sunday.

The Storm beat the Sun 90-87 in overtime on May 25 and 89-66 on June 13. Miller (due to a one-game suspension) and goaltender Briann January missed the first game and Connecticut was without center Jonquel Jones in the second.

Miller believes his team’s success hinges on keeping Seattle under 80 and limiting turnovers. “We have done a lot of things well to put ourselves in this position,” he said. “It’s such a big gap between who’s going to win and who isn’t. We emphasize the little things because the little things make a difference.”

Seattle is the reigning WNBA champion and a big picture like Connecticut aspires to finish in the top two in the regular season with winning a double pass from the knockout first / second round playoff games.

The WNBA regular season runs through September 19 and the playoffs begin September 23. The last possible date for the WNBA Finals is October 19.

WNBA Commissioners Cup Final

Which: Connecticut Sun (East qualifying) vs. Seattle Storm (West).

When: 6 p.m. Thursday.

Or: Center of the footprint.

TV: Amazon Prime Video.

Prize money: Pot of $ 500,000: $ 30,000 per winning team, $ 10,000 per losing team, $ 5,000 MVP.

Following: Brittney Griner scores 30 points in US women’s basketball gold medal win

Contact the reporter at [email protected] or 602-444-8053. Follow him on twitter @jeffmetcalfe.

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