Fans waiting for the consistency of the Sun team that finished No. 1 in net rating during the regular season to make its playoff debut are still waiting.
It was an ugly first-round series, but the Sun escaped unscathed after blowing out the Wings on the road in the third quarter on Wednesday, 73-58. DeWanna Bonner scored 21 points with five rebounds and five assists to lead Connecticut to a win despite the team shooting 35.5% from the field and just 4-of-17 from 3-point range.
Though Dallas was missing its top scorer, Arike Ogunbowale, for all but parts of one game, Connecticut trailed by as many as 31 points in a Game 2 loss, and saw a tie score at halftime of Game 3. A Game 1, 25-point Sun win showed the strength we’ve been waiting on from a Connecticut playoff team. Then the offense got stuck in the mud.
Connecticut’s come very close to winning it all, falling in a decisive Game 5 in the finals to a historically excellent Washington Mystics group in 2019. A lot of that same team — Alyssa Thomas, Jonquel Jones and Courtney Williams — is still here.
But since re-tooling with breakout star Brionna Jones and All-Star veteran DeWanna Bonner, the team has collapsed (with no help from untimely injuries) in the two postseasons since (five-game semifinal loss to the Aces in 2020 and a four-game semifinal loss to the Sky in 2021). Now they’re right back to where they were last year — against the same opponent.
The defending champion Sky stumbled out of the gates in the opening round as well, needing all three games to take care of business against the No. 7 Liberty. But the closeout game showed why Candace Parker and Courtney Vandersloot are future Hall of Famers in an 18-point win.
For Connecticut to advance to the finals, they’ll have to do something they haven’t done all year — beat the Sky even once. Chicago won all four of these teams’ matchups. Two wins came by a single possession (one in overtime), while the others were by four and eight points. The Sun have come close. They just haven’t been able to close out an experienced, deep team. And now they’ll have to do it three times in five games.
This is THE moment for the Connecticut Sun as we know them. It’s hard to imagine they keep this group together if they fall short again. To date, they haven’t shown why we should believe in them as a postseason team. Now’s that time.