The Connecticut Sun thought they would be in this position before the season ever started, and they turned out to be right.
The Sun punched their ticket to the WNBA Finals on Thursday night with a dramatic come-from-behind victory on the road over the defending champion Chicago Sky. Connecticut was on this elevated stage in 2019, as they look for a shot at redemption with the Sun trying to claim the franchise’s first championship.
That certainly won’t be an easy feat given that the third-seeded Sun face a loaded Las Vegas Aces squad, who have home-court advantage after having the best record in the WNBA in the regular season.
Here’s everything you need to know before the best-of-five series begins on Sunday in Las Vegas:
Las Vegas got the better of Connecticut during the regular season, beating the Sun in two out of their three matchups. All three of the contests were decided by single digits. However, Connecticut wasn’t at full strength for two of the games, with head coach Curt Miller missing the first meeting and star Jonquel Jones out for the finale regular-season tilt. In both cases, the shorthanded Sun fell to the Aces.
MVP vs. MVP
Each side lays claim to the last two WNBA MVPs. Jones won the award in 2021 while Aces star forward A’ja Wilson earned the accolade for the second time in her career this season. Wilson, who was also named Defensive Player of the Year, does just about everything possible for Las Vegas. She’s averaging a double-double in the postseason with 20.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game.
Jones’ play took a dip this season compared to her MVP campaign from a year ago. The 6-foot-6 forward tallied 14.6 points and 8.6 rebounds per game after averaging a double-double in 2021. Jones had two single-digit performances in the semifinals and she can’t duplicate those showings against the Aces.
NOT ONE-PLAYER TEAMS
Both teams are comprised of way more than Jones and Wilson. Aces guard Kelsey Plum is a difference-maker while Jackie Young won Most Improved Player of the Year this season. That’s a ton of talent already for Las Vegas, and that’s before we mention Chelsea Gray, who has been a deadly shooter this postseason. Gray scored 29 points in a Game 3 victory over the Seattle Storm before putting on an even better performance in Game 4. Gray netted 31 points on 13-of-22 shooting to go along with 10 assists and six rebounds.
While those top-tier talents will pose problems for the Sun, Connecticut has plenty of weapons, too. Alyssa Thomas is a do-it-all machine and has been Connecticut’s best player this season while 13-year veteran DeWanna Bonner is a steadying force for the Sun and has scored at least 12 points in six out of Connecticut’s eight postseason games. Brionna Jones won Sixth Player of the Year and can provide a boost off the bench as well.
Game 1, Sunday: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 3 p.m. ET
Game 2, Tuesday: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 9 p.m. ET
Game 3, Thursday: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 9 p.m. ET
Game 4, Sunday: Las Vegas at Connecticut, 4 p.m. ET (If necessary)
Game 5, Tuesday: Connecticut at Las Vegas, 9 p.m. ET (If necessary)
Las Vegas entered the postseason as the favorite to win the title and it will stay that way. DraftKings Sportsbook has the Aces as overwhelming favorites, giving them -260 odds to win the title. Connecticut has +210 odds, meaning a $100 bet on the Sun to come out on top would net a total payout of $310.