September 1, 2020
The Connecticut Sun are celebrating every win
The shorthanded Sun pull out a win against the Washington Mystics
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Connecticut Sun v Washington Mystics PALMETTO, FL – AUGUST 30: Jasmine Thomas #5 of the Connecticut Sun drives to the basket against the Washington Mystics on August 30, 2020, at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via GettyImages)
“You got to celebrate every win down here in the bubble and every win is big. In a shortened season, there’s very little separation, it’s gonna be a wild ride to the playoffs. So every win is big,” head coach Curt Miller said after the Connecticut Sun’s 76-63 win over the Washington Mystics.
The Sun have a three-game lead over the Mystics in the standings but it would have been only half a game ahead if they had lost.
Miller also added, “there’s always a sense of relief a little bit unfortunately in coaching but I’m gonna try to enjoy it because as exhausted as we looked out there they gutted through that, the eight that played really gutted through it and when you consider Jas[mine Thomas] only played 10 minutes.”
Jasmine Thomas did not play after the first quarter due to plantar fasciitis pain and Brionna Jones, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Bria Holmes, and Theresa Plaisance did not enter the game at all.
Jones and Mosqueda-Lewis were ruled out before the game. Holmes did not feel comfortable after warming up. Plaisance was a coach’s decision and Miller said he wanted to rest her as she continues to get closer to healthy.
Essence Carson started in place of Jones, and scored eight points in the first five minutes of the game, providing a spark Connecticut needed early in the game.
Miller praised the three bench players that did play, saying, “We got all sorts of people banged up just like every other team. But, you know, again, the eight that played gave us their all and the three off the bench played terrific. And those are two rookies and a second-year player [Kaila Charles, Beatrice Mompremier, and. So really, really happy with how those three played off the bench.”
After the game, Kaila Charles reflected on her 16 point performance saying, “We only had seven players that played tonight and so I knew that I had to do my part and more because we were missing some key players. And so I just want to make sure that I was doing the best I could whether it was on defense, offense, and I was open being confident of the shot and knocking down and finding my teammates just playing the game.”
In addition to praising the bench, Miller wanted to make sure that Alyssa Thomas got her due credit as well.
Thomas, who is in the conversation for MVP, nearly had a triple-double with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists, as well as a steal and a block, despite not shooting well early in the game. Thomas has anchored the team throughout the season but was critically important with the limited play of two starters.
Miller called her an important facilitator but praised her defense the most, crediting her for changing matchups as she was put on different Mystics players as they got hot.
The ever cool-tempered Thomas responded to a question about her near triple-double, a milestone she wasn’t aware of or paying attention to, with, “I’m just out there trying to play.”
She noted that with people hurt, it was an all hands on deck situation and people have to step up. Once again Thomas stepped up and continued to have her hand in every facet of the Sun’s game.
While Thomas can step up game after game, playing with seven healthy players is not something sustainable by any team. For the Sun to continue their playoff push Carson and Charles will need to continue playing at the level they played against the Mystics, but multiple players will need to get healthy enough to play.
Early in the season, it became evident that Connecticut could not just rely on Thomas and Bonner playing a lot of minutes every game, however, the win against Washington showed how far the team has come since it’s 0-5 start.
The Sun return to the court on Sept. 1 to take on the New York Liberty at 7 p.m. ET.