September 8, 2020
The Connecticut Sun clinch a playoff spot with win over the Phoenix Mercury
How the Sun overcame an 0-5 start to reach the postseason
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Connecticut Sun v Washington Mystics PALMETTO, FL – AUGUST 30: DeWanna Bonner #24 of the Connecticut Sun dribbles the ball up court on August 30, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images)
“That was emotional, that’s 10 years of friendship right there. 10 years of love,” DeWanna Bonner said after the Connecticut Sun’s 85-70 over the Phoenix Mercury.
Prior to the 2020 season, Bonner had spent the previous decade with the Mercury. The Sun clinched a playoff spot with the win over the Mercury.
“When I made that change to go to Connecticut it was really hard and it’s funny that we clinched off that game, we can clinch a playoff spot. So man, I’m just thankful for my team, my coaches that were just really emotional for me,” Bonner added.
22 WNBA teams have ever started 0-5 and Connecticut is just the third team to make the playoffs after that start and the first to do so with a shortened season.
The first team was the 2012 New York Liberty and the second was the 2015 Los Angeles Sparks. Essence Carson, who has been with the team for the last couple of weeks, was on the 2012 Liberty team and current Sun head coach Curt Miller was an assistant coach with that Sparks team, his first coaching position in the league.
Since starting 0-5 the Sun have gone 10-5 despite injuries and few days off in between.
“It always feels good when you put yourself in in a win. Now, you know, hotel security may say otherwise last night when I screamed at the TV in the Dallas-Washington game, but it feels good to win and get in and not back your way into the playoffs. I’m so excited, this is what we ultimately wanted to accomplish,” Miller said.
He also commended the grittiness of his team, noting they never panicked and just kept grinding and building together.
Alyssa Thomas noted that even after the slow start, the Sun knew that its hard work would pay off.
“We just kept working at it, knew that chemistry would come and I’m super proud of this team. And I think we’re peaking at the right time with playoffs coming up,” Thomas said.
In her post game availability, Bonner thanked the Sun fans: “Thank you for staying with us. We’re in there so now, let’s see what we can do.”
Despite putting up big statistical performances, Bonner wasn’t happy with how she played early in the season.
“I think at the beginning I didn’t get my teammates involved,” she said. “I didn’t like the way I was playing I had a conversation with my dad actually. I was just like ‘I don’t like the way I’m playing and I don’t feel like I’m making my teammates better, making them feel confident.’ So I watched film by myself. I watched film with my dad.”
Her talk and film sessions with her dad helped and going forward Bonner was able to get her teammates involved and it worked to change the trajectory of the team’s season.
“A lot of people counted us out after starting 0-5, they didn’t believe we’d make the playoffs at one point,” Bonner said. “So when I said stay with us, that’s exactly what I meant. So now we’re in there. This is the fun part of basketball. So thank you Connecticut.”
Looking ahead, the Sun play the Mercury again on Sept. 9 and finish the regular season against the Atlanta Dream on Sept. 11.
“We have to be really smart because it is a MASH unit. We have so many players in boots we have players with hand injuries. We are beat up. So we will look at all scenarios over these next couple games,” said Miller.
In the last two games the Sun have a chance to tie or surpass the previous record for best winning percentage after starting 0-5. The 2008 Houston Comets finished 17-17 but missed the playoffs.
However, more important than winning their last two games for the Sun is staying healthy.