Las Vegas Aces put 6-game winning streak on the line

Aces guard Kelsey Plum (10) celebrates a big offensive play with teammate Jackie Young (0) in t ...

Aces wing Jackie Young knows this is an important week.

Fresh off a victory over the reigning WNBA champion Chicago Sky, the Aces will play the Connecticut Sun, whose 6-2 record leads the Eastern Conference, on Tuesday and Thursday at Michelob Ultra Arena.

“It’s just important that we come out and play our game,” Young said.

First-year Aces coach Becky Hammon has directed her team to an 8-1 start with a six-game winning streak. The Aces lead the league in points per game and 3-point percentage. The Sun, who were 3-0 against Las Vegas last season, are second in both categories.

But Hammon has said that the Aces will go as far as their defense carries them. And that proved true against the Sky.

The Aces shot only 20 percent on 3-pointers, but their defense, particularly on the perimeter, bailed them out in a 7-point win.

The Aces’ willingness to guard the perimeter has been a constant all season. They are holding opponents to 29 percent shooting from 3-point range. Chelsea Gray, Kelsey Plum and Young have chased shooters off the 3-point line all season.

“We’re trying to compete,” Plum said. “We’re trying to win the matchup, whoever we have. Then, we have everyone’s backs out there.”

Plum said she thinks the chemistry she shares with Gray and Young has been a major factor in their ability to communicate and rotate on the perimeter effectively. Plum and Young also said being prepared has made their jobs easier, from good scouting to knowing the tendencies and abilities of opponents.

Young added that Plum’s improved defense has been instrumental. She was a scoring machine at Washington, where she had a 57-point game and set NCAA Division I records for points in a season and career. Offense, not defense, was the reason she was taken No. 1 overall in the 2017 draft.

Plum’s weak-side communication has been extremely valuable for Young, who often draws the opponent’s top scorer. Plum said defense just requires strength, conditioning and mental focus.

“It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’m at the point where it’s getting better,” she said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.