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  • Writer's pictureEmma Treptow

"We Gotta Go Out and Overachieve": the Connecticut Sun's Momentum into the Playoffs

“Five of the last six years that we will finish the regular season in the top four of this league,” Curt Miller told the media after the Sun’s 90-83 win over the Minnesota Lynx. But Miller continued by saying that going into the postseason, the Sun won’t even be one of the first teams someone lists as a possible WNBA Champion to end this 2022 season, “We won’t be picked, there might be as many as four teams predicted to win this before we are.”

Natisha Hiedeman (#2) and Alyssa Thomas (#25) jump into each other during lineup announcements prior to the Connecticut Sun's game versus the Phoenix Mercury on August 4, 2022 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Photo by Nala Burton

But despite the doubts, the Connecticut Sun head into the playoffs as a No. 3 seed, winning all but one of their games in the month of August. The Sun won two double-game series against the Phoenix Mercury and Los Angeles Sparks, dropping a match against the Chicago Sky in between the sets of games. The Sky have had the Sun’s number this year in all four of the head-to-head matchups.

Besides the loss, the Sun are rolling into the playoffs, playing some top basketball while having lots of fun. Brionna Jones said after the Sun’s win against the Lynx that the team “is back to having fun… and as long as we’re having fun out there and playing together, the sky’s the limit.”

Another piece of the puzzle for the Sun is Jones herself. Finishing Sunday’s game with 23 minutes of playing time, 15 points, and two assists, “Breezy” has been one of the most important players for the Sun. She’s usually the first player checking into the game off the bench and brings the same level of basketball that any of the five starters can give. She is currently ranked in the top five in the WNBA in field goal percentage, offensive rebounds, second chance points, and points in the paint. When Natisha Hiedeman was asked about what Jones has done for the team off the bench, she had nothing but praise for her teammate.

"Off the court, Breezy is an amazing person, like just who she is, she just deserves an award for that,” Hiedeman said. “Whatever her task at hand is, she just takes it head-on with a positive attitude… she’s really deserving of this award [Sixth Man of the Year], I don’t even know who’s up for the award but she better get it, cause I mean, all the numbers prove it… and she’s very deserving.”

Jones is averaging 13.8 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench throughout this size. Both her numbers and her overall impact on the court make her one of the best nominees for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.

With fun on their side and having overachieved all season, this team is ready for a deep run into the playoffs. Miller emphasized that the team is mentally ready to go in and find success in the playoffs despite their unfortunate series against the Sky last season.

“And now, this team’s final step is trying to overachieve in the playoff,” said Miller. “We’ll take that on as a badge of honor that we gotta go out and overachieve to reach the goal of a championship in this franchise.”

As for the players, they feel ready too.

“We have really good momentum going into the playoffs," Hiedeman said. "The energy is great, the confidence with everybody is amazing, and that’s what you need come playoff time.”

The Sun open their 2022 playoff run against the Dallas Wings. Dallas is a strong, young team who is hungry and looking for success. With two wins over the Sun this season, they will definitely be hoping for an upset. But with the Sun’s experience in the playoffs these last few seasons, plus their veteran leadership in DeWanna Bonner, Alyssa Thomas, and reigning league MVP, Jonquel Jones, the Sun will hope to make it past the first round.

Unfortunately for the Wings, they will be without their star guard, Arike Ogunbowale, who recently underwent a successful iliac crest core muscle avulsion repair. The Wings will need to turn to Marina Mabrey who had 27 points in Dallas’s 116-88 win over the LA Sparks. Mabrey has been averaging 13.6 points, 3.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists this season.

The Connecticut Sun finished the season 25-11 in third while Dallas finished 18-18 and in sixth in the standings. The two teams will meet on Thursday, August 18, 2022, and Sunday, August 21, 2022, in Uncasville, Connecticut at Mohegan Sun Arena. A possible third game is scheduled for Wednesday, August 24, 2022, in Dallas, Texas. Thursday’s game will begin at 8 p.m. EST and will be aired on ESPNU and NBATV. Sunday’s game will begin at 12 p.m. EST and will be aired on ABC. Details for a third game will be announced if needed.


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