Coming off Sunday's Olympic gold medal game, another highly anticipated women's basketball championship is at stake on Thursday.
The WNBA returns from its Olympic break with the inaugural Commissioner's Cup Championship Game. The defending WNBA champion Seattle Storm will battle the rising Connecticut Sun in Phoenix with half a million dollars up for grabs.
From origins to streaming information to scouting reports, here is everything to know ahead of the first-ever Commissioner's Cup Championship Game:
What is the WNBA Commissioner's Cup?
The Commissioner's Cup is the WNBA's first in-season competition that goes beyond the ordinary standings.
One team from each conference earned a berth in the Commissioner's Cup Championship Game with a $500,000 prize pool on the line. Players on the winning team will each earn at least $30,000, players on the losing team will earn $10,000, and the MVP of the contest will earn an additional $5,000.
Along with cash, the winners will take home the shiny new Commissioner's Cup trophy:
Each team had 10 "Cup games" -- the first home game and first road game against each foe in its conference -- over the first half of the season that counted towards the Commissioner's Cup standings. The Sun went 9-1 in Commissioner’s Cup games while out-scoring Eastern Conference opponents by 122 points. The Storm went 8-2 against Western Conference teams in Commissioner’s Cup contests.
When is the WNBA Commissioner's Cup Championship Game?
The Sun and Storm will tip off at the Footprint Center in Phoenix at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Aug. 12.
The game can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video with Lisa Byington and Lisa Leslie on the call.
Who is playing in the WNBA's Commissioner's Cup Championship Game?
Thursday’s matchup features two of the W’s most dominant squads from the first half.
The Storm led the overall standings heading into the Olympic break at 16-5. Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart and Jewell Loyd are back with the team after winning gold medals with Team USA at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Bird is aiming for her fifth WNBA title to go along with her fifth Olympic gold. Stewart, meanwhile, is chasing her second WNBA MVP, averaging 20.6 points (third in the league) and 9.6 rebounds (fifth in the league) per game.
The Sun, on the other hand, has been one of the surprise teams of the WNBA season and boasts its own star trio. Jonquel Jones, DeWanna Bonner and Brionna Jones were all named to the WNBA All-Star team after leading Connecticut to a 14-6 record in the first half of the season. Jonquel Jones is the MVP frontrunner heading into the second half with averages of 21.0 points (second in the league) and 11.1 rebounds (first in the league) per game.
Seattle is 2-0 in the season series against Connecticut. The Storm needed overtime to put away the Sun by a score of 90-87 in Seattle on May 25 before cruising to an 89-66 win in Connecticut on June 13. Connecticut was not at full strength for either contest, though. Guard Briann January was injured for the first game and head coach Curt Miller was suspended. Then, Jonquel Jones missed the second matchup because she was competing for Bosnia and Herzegovina in EuroBasket.
The two main trios were also on opposite sides on July 14 when the WNBA All-Stars faced Team USA in a pre-Olympic tune-up. Jonquel Jones put up 18 points and 14 rebounds as the All-Stars beat Team USA 93-85.