(Photo credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)
Common knowledge says that the Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty are on a collision course for the WNBA Finals. But after a dominant performance to open the playoffs, the Connecticut Sun might be primed to crash the party.
The Sun will aim to close out their first-round series -- and the Minnesota Lynx will try to stay alive -- when the respective third and sixth seeds play Game 2 on Sunday afternoon in Uncasville, Conn.
If the Lynx take Game 2 of the best-of-three series, they'll earn the right to host Game 3 on Wednesday.
Connecticut demolished Minnesota 90-60 in Game 1 last Wednesday. While the Lynx struggled to string together runs, the Sun poured in 16 of 30 attempts from beyond the arc to set a franchise playoff record for 3-pointers in a game.
"They scored 30 points off our turnovers and 48 points from the 3-point line. That's 78 of the 90 points," Lynx guard Kayla McBride told reporters. "We gotta take better care of the ball, but I think we've had to get more aggressive in getting down."
While a displeased coach Cheryl Reeve said her team's performance was "awful," she pointed out the Lynx have overcome adversity before.
"It's a collective with this group," Reeve said postgame. "We've had hard times before. We've gotten smacked before. We (started the year) 0-6. This team always gets up. We're not going to not get up."
In addition to tighter defense and better ball-handling, the Lynx will need more than just McBride (16 points Wednesday) and Napheesa Collier (14) to contribute scoring. Jessica Shepard and Lindsay Allen, two of their top six scorers in the regular season, missed Game 1 with ankle and thumb injuries, respectively.
While five Connecticut players scored in double figures in Game 1, Alyssa Thomas once again served as a cornerstone, chipping in 15 points, 10 assists and five steals.
The Sun's "point forward" set multiple triple-double records this season and led the league in both total rebounds (394) and total assists (316), while ranking third in steals (83) and averaging 15.5 points per game.
Thomas has garnered league MVP attention alongside New York's Breanna Stewart and Las Vegas' A'ja Wilson. The award will be announced Sept. 26.
"I think the biggest thing is I'm putting up something that has never been seen before," Thomas told the Washington Post. "... We live in an era now where it's so much focused on scoring that I think we lose sight of the all-around game and how impressive it is."
--Field Level Media