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WNBA’s best set to clash as Aces meet Liberty

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The WNBA’s top two teams will become plenty familiar with each other in August, as the Las Vegas Aces and the New York Liberty cross paths four times this month.

Aces coach Becky Hammon knows her squad will be prepared for Round 1 of the quartet, which is set for Sunday afternoon at Brooklyn.

“If you can’t get up to play New York, I think you’ve got to check your pulse in this league,” Hammon said.

Las Vegas (24-2) waltzes into New York on an eight-game winning streak amid a campaign that appears primed to rewrite the WNBA record books.

The Aces already matched the 1998 Houston Comets for the best 26-game start in WNBA history and are on pace to surpass that squad, which finished 27-3 for the league’s best regular-season win percentage.

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The Aces need six victories throughout their final 15 games to set the WNBA record for most regular-season wins, which currently stands at 29, held by the 2014 Phoenix Mercury.

Las Vegas took the first step toward a second-straight WNBA title by throttling the visiting Atlanta Dream 93-72 on Tuesday, becoming the first team this season to clinch a playoff spot.

New York (21-6) returns home from a 3-0 road trip that featured a pair of wins at Los Angeles on Sunday and Tuesday along with a 76-66 victory at Minnesota on Friday.

The Liberty trailed 42-41 at halftime, then buckled down on defence in the second half, stifling the Lynx to 24 points over the last two quarters.

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“We just started getting stops, and it all comes by five players being on the same page,” New York head coach Sandy Brondello said. “And that’s what we need every single day.”

That continuity will be paramount for Brondello’s team on Sunday against an Aces squad that runs up 94.4 points per game, with the Liberty next at 87.7.

The Liberty gave up the most points they have allowed in a game this season in their 98-81 defeat at Las Vegas on June 29. New York also surrendered 98 in a 10-point home loss to Dallas on July 19.

Every Aces starter scored at least 14 points in the first matchup, including Kelsey Plum’s team-high 18. Breanna Stewart, whose 22.7 scoring average ranks second in the WNBA, put up 16 points for the Liberty in the defeat.

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