Sun collapse and Aces prove resilient as they clinch a finals berth
I had the audacity in yesterday’s article to predict the highest-scoring game of the series for game 5, with the thought that the normally dominant shooters would finally regress toward the mean of their regular season efficiency.
At the end of the first half, I was feeling pretty good about my prediction. Connecticut was shooting 62% from the field and a late second quarter push from Las Vegas had them within six, 45-39 at the break.
The second half looked like a completely different game. Was it bad offense or great defense? Both? Everyone looked fatigue in a season that allowed for little rest between games. Whatever the reason, both offenses looked stagnant, with no productive movement that led to bad shot selection and ultimately very few points.
The Aces only put up 27 second-half points, but by holding the Sun to an embarrassing 18 (only 9 in each quarter), they are headed to the franchise’s second WNBA Finals, and their first since moving to Las Vegas. The San Antonio Silver Stars lost their only previous appearance to the Detroit Shock back in 2008.
A’ja Wilson had a double-double for Las Vegas, with Angel McCoughtry adding 20 as she continues her hot streak. Both Carolyn Swords and Danielle Robinson provided 10 rebounds for the Aces, who held their own on the glass for the first time this series.
For the Sun, Alyssa Thomas ended her 2020 campaign with an impressive 22/10. Connecticut could not overcome going 3-for-19 from beyond the arc and only getting to the free throw line 9 times.
Neither coach dipped into their bench heavily, with all starters playing over 30 minutes. While both teams surely wanted their best players on the court at all time, you have to think some of the late-game fatigue could have been alleviated with a few more substitutions.
While Connecticut will be disappointed they did not make it back to the finals, the fact that they came this far is a testament to their players, coaching staff, and heart. With Jonquel Jones rejoining the squad next season, the Sun will be a dangerous contender in 2021.
The focus now shifts to the Seattle Storm finals matchup with the Las Vegas Aces. Seattle is looking to win their second title in three years, but will be without role player Sami Whitcomb who is leaving the bubble for the birth of her child.
In other WNBA news, Candace Parker made headlines by failing to be named to either the first or second all-defensive team despite winning defensive player of the year. The discrepancy comes from the media choosing the DPOY versus the coaches selecting the all-WNBA teams, but it is shocking the two groups were not on the same page with Parker.
Alyssa Thomas, Alysha Clark, and Brianna Turner highlighted the 1st team, and 2nd team members Breanna Stewart and A’ja Wilson will begin their quest for a title later this week.