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Sun are one loss away from same fate as last year

After losing 76-72 on Sunday, the Connecticut Sun find themselves in the same spot they were last year: Down 2-1 against the Chicago Sky in the semifinals.

Chicago Sky v Connecticut Sun - Game Three Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

The more things change, the more they stay the same for Connecticut as they find themselves in the same position they were last season, down 2-1 to Chicago and facing elimination. DeWanna Bonner messed around and got a double-double, but it wasn’t enough as the Sun lost Game 2 76-72.

So what went wrong? Why are the Sun facing elimination once again at the hands of Chicago? To me, it seems as though Chicago is just executing their game plan a bit more effectively than Connecticut is. Vandersloot and Copper have been spectacular for virtually the entire series, and the backcourt of Courtney Williams and Natasha Hiedeman doesn’t have an answer for them. They held their own offensively, with Williams scoring 12 and Hiedeman contributing 14, but that’s not enough from your guards if Chicago is getting production from Vandersloot and Copper. Luckily, Allie Quigley’s struggles have continued as she shot 1-of-11 from the field, but if anything, that’s more reason to be concerned if you’re a Sun fan; the Sky still have room for improvement despite winning back-to-back games.

Candace Parker continues to be a problem. She’s having the best series of her Sky career, and on Sunday she scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to add to her totals. We’ve seen the Sun try everything to slow down Parker, and things even got a bit too physical when Alyssa Thomas’ elbow caught Parker’s eye.

Parker is an all-time great and future hall-of-famer. If she has a vintage series and your All-Star bigs can’t slow her down, you shake her hand and accept that. However, to beat this Sky team, you must take something away.

The Sun are dominating the boards but not taking advantage of it. Shooting has to improve. On Sunday, they shot a woeful 36 percent from the field; that will not win you many games. The other aspect the Sun have to be careful with is morale. I rarely talk about player attitudes and emotions because, frankly, we don’t know. Even with as much video evidence as we can have, you’re still making an assumption or projection of your feelings on another person. However, given the Sun’s situation, being considered a great regular-season team that never gets it done come playoff time, I think there’s concern they could be falling apart from the pressure. Take a listen to Curt Miller’s comments mid-game about getting fired due to missed layups.

Could he have been joking? Just said it in jest? Sure, but even so, all jokes have a bit of truth to them, and if the Sun lose again to Chicago and for the third time in a row in the WNBA Semis, changes will have to be made. Curious what the players thought of this comment as well; not a word of banter from them when he said this.

Nekias Duncan did a great breakdown on Twitter of a handful of Sun plays and what was going wrong based on decision-making and body language from several of the Sun’s players. Here’s one example where Alyssa Thomas is visibly upset from getting her screen rejected.

Again, this could be nothing and only something being exaggerated by the losses. Still, I can find clips of Thomas, Jones, and others frustrated with not getting the ball and giving up on an offensive possession early due to the decisions made by their guards all season long. Things can reach a boiling point during a desperation Game 4 on Tuesday if they've been fed up all year.

Despite the difficult situation the Sun faced, they were only a few possessions away from victory. They’ve played the Sky well and know the path to success. Shoot better, make life difficult for the Vanderquigs and Copper, and get a little more offense from your guards. They are at home for the last time in this series on Tuesday; it’s up to them if it’s also the last time they play at home this season.