Connecticut Sun don’t need to talk about their past against Sky to be fueled by it

Razor-thin margins have defined the Sky-Sun meetings the last two years. The Sky won six straight games against the Sun, before Game 1 on Sunday, by an average of 5.1 points.

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DeWanna Bonner finished with a team-high 15 points, nine rebounds and five assists in Game 1 against the Sky.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

The Sun don’t talk about last year. 

They don’t talk about their 26-10 first-place finish — the best in franchise history — in the 2021 regular season or the fact they were favored to win it all. They don’t talk about their bye into the semifinals or, in Game 1 on their home court, how the sixth-seeded Sky snapped the 12-game winning streak they carried into the postseason. 

They certainly don’t talk about their 3-1 series elimination. 

They don’t talk about any of it, but the experience of a quick and disappointing playoff ouster by the eventual WNBA champions is seared into their memories. 

“It’s not always the fairy-tale ending,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. 

This year, the shoe is on the other foot. After their own 26-10 regular season, which left them tied with the Aces atop the league standings, the Sky dropped Game 1 of the semifinals to the Sun on Sunday night. 

Close margins have defined the teams’ meetings the last two years, with the Sky winning six straight before Sunday, by an average of 5.1 points. 

In Game 1 of the semifinals last year, the Sun had the ball in the final 13 seconds of regulation with the score tied at 84, but guard/forward DeWanna Bonner hit the front of the rim on a midrange jumper and the Sky went on to win in double overtime. 

In their third meeting this season on July 31, the Sky and Sun were again tied at 84 when Sun guard Courtney Williams missed an almost identical shot to Bonner’s from 2021, only on the right side of the floor. The Sky won 95-92 in overtime.

On the surface, the final minutes are what decide matchups between these teams. Most recently, on Sunday, the Sun outplayed the Sky in the final three minutes to pull out a five-point win. 

But moments in the second and third quarters, in which the Sky’s missed shots resulted in narrow swings by the Sun, may be just as defining. The Sun have learned to control those swings. They may not be talking about the past, but it’s certainly fueling them in this rematch. 

“The taste that we have left over from last year has made us even more hungry this year,” forward Brionna Jones said. 

Championship windows are rare and fleeting for some teams. For others, they’re prolonged and frequent. Each of these teams has an open window that may be closing fast.

For the second time this postseason, the Sky will need to come from behind to regain control of a series, with the first opportunity coming in Game 2 on Wednesday night. It worked against the Liberty in the first round, but unlike the Sun, the Liberty weren’t a team with a score to settle.

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