Connecticut Sun clinch spot in WNBA’s inaugural Commissioner’s Cup

Connecticut has advanced to the championship game of the WNBA’s inaugural Commissioner’s Cup, which will be played Aug. 12.

The Sun secured the Eastern Conference slot in the game with their 84-72 victory over Atlanta on Friday. They will meet an opponent from the Western Conference, which is still to be decided.

The Commissioner’s Cup is an in-season competition that designates a portion of regular-season games from the first half of the season — 10 per team, 60 total — to count toward Cup standings. The Sun are 8-1 in Cup games, already clinching their spot regardless of the outcome of Sunday’s Cup game against New York. Connecticut is 13-6 overall.

The Cup will have total prize money of $500,000. Members of the Cup’s winning team can earn in excess of $30,000 per player, with the runner-up team getting $10,000 per player. The game’s MVP will earn an additional $5,000.

The Commissioner’s Cup guarantees an East-West matchup, which the WNBA Finals does not anymore since the playoff format changed in 2016 to seed all eight playoff teams by record regardless of conference.

“You’re adding an extra game, which isn’t that inconvenient, and you’re playing for some bonus money,” Connecticut guard Briann January said of making the Cup final. “So that’s nice. I hope it does what it’s intended to do, which is bring some buzz to the league, bring some excitement, have fans tune in.”

The first half of the WNBA’s regular season ends Sunday, as the league breaks for the All-Star Game on July 14 in Las Vegas (7 p.m. ET, ESPN/ESPN App) and the Tokyo Olympics on July 23-Aug. 8.

After the Commissioner’s Cup final, the WNBA regular season resumes Aug. 15.

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Connecticut Sun clinch spot in WNBA’s inaugural Commissioner’s Cup

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