WNBA Playoffs: Why CT Sun Will Avenge Last Two Title Runs, Win Finals

Could this be the year?


September 20, 2021

The Connecticut Sun lost in the WNBA Finals two seasons ago. They followed that up by adding four-time All-Star DeWanna Bonner to the mix to create one of the league’s most dominant trios.

But it wasn’t smooth sailing the following season when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the campaign to be played in a bubble. Jonquel Jones opted out, and the Sun would have to wait even longer to find out what their Big Three could do, as Alyssa Thomas tore her Achilles in January.

Despite all of that, Connecticut has been just about unstoppable this season, with an overall record of 26-6. With the best defensive rating in the WNBA paired with the league’s second-best rated offense, the Sun has earned itself the No. 1 seed and a double-round bye in the playoffs.

After years of waiting, this could be the season they go all the way and actually bring the trophy home.

Here’s why.

The odds are in their favor
The Sun (+200) are a narrow favorite over the Las Vegas Aces (+230) at FanDuel Sportsbook at the conclusion of play Sunday. But Vegas has been disrespecting the Sun most of the season, so wagering $100 to profit $200 feels like a safe bet.

Connecticut has never had this much help
Jonquel Jones and Bonner have led the way most of the season, but a lot of factors have led to the Sun’s dominance. For one, playing shorthanded has allowed a few other players to step into bigger roles.

Brionna Jones emerged from the shadows as the team’s backup post player in Jonquel Jones’ absence. Those reps poised her for a breakout season, which she parlayed to her first All-Star appearance.

Meanwhile, a case could be made for Briann January as Defensive Player of the Year, and point guard Jasmine Thomas rounds out the best defensive starting five in the WNBA. Off the bench, Natisha Hiedeman has stepped up, especially from the perimeter, and Kaila Charles and DiJonai Carrington have been able to get comfortable and contribute as well.

Alyssa Thomas is back
Speaking of help, Connecticut just pulled one of the best tricks it has out of its back pocket.

Just nine months after having surgery to repair her Achilles, Alyssa Thomas surprised everyone by recovering way ahead of schedule to make her season debut in their penultimate game of the regular season. Certainly, they won’t want to push her, but the Sun just got much deeper by adding a two-time All-Star and All-Defensive First Teamer to the mix.

Let’s look at the numbers
As mentioned, the Sun boast the best defense in the WNBA, which helps result in their No. 2 offense and league-leading net rating (plus-12.7) and margin of victory (9.48).

Though their field goal and three-point percentage both rank fourth in the league, they fall more towards the middle of the pack in attempts. That’s a testament to their defense, intensity and size.

Stacking up against the competition
The Aces, Minnesota Lynx, Seattle Storm and Phoenix Mercury are all considered contenders this season. Connecticut is 8-4 against those teams this season, losing one to the Lynx and falling to the Storm in every game of the season series. But Seattle has had a small fall from grace at the end of the regular season while Connecticut has surged.

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