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Preview: Can Connecticut’s Alyssa Thomas lead the Sun to victory against the New York Liberty?

The Connecticut Sun got bad news last week when Brionna Jones was ruled out for the remainder of the season, but that hasn’t deterred Alyssa Thomas. The MVP candidate and triple-double threat leads the Sun against the New York Liberty, who previously defeated Connecticut in their first matchup of the 2023 season.

Connecticut Sun v Minnesota Lynx
Sun forward Alyssa Thomas has kept Connecticut playing well in the wake of Brionna Jones’ injury.
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Connecticut Sun (12-3) will host the New York Liberty (9-3) Tuesday in the second matchup of the season between the two teams, and it’s a big one, with Connecticut currently sitting 1.5 games ahead of New York for second place in the WNBA standings. The game will be broadcast on NBA TV and tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.

The Sun are one of the WNBA’s hottest teams, having won four straight games, and would do well to put another game in between themselves and the Liberty in the standings. They’ll be attempting to do so without starting center Brionna Jones, however, who ruptured her right Achilles tendon last week and will miss the remainder of the 2023 season. Jones, one of the WNBA’s most formidable back-to-the-basket centers, was averaging career highs across the board when she got injured — 15.9 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.8 steals per game — and her production will be difficult to replace.

Fortunately for Connecticut, Alyssa Thomas is playing better than ever. Sun head coach Stephanie White has used Thomas as a small-ball center since Jones went down, and the results thus far have been spectacular: Thomas recently recorded a massive triple-double against the Chicago Sky, racking up 14 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists (and only one turnover), which was her second triple-double of the season and the fourth of her regular-season career. The do-it-all forward had become known for dragging previous Sun teams to greater-than-expected success, and she seems primed to do it once again in 2023.

Will the Sun’s new-look lineup be at an advantage against the Liberty, though? New York boasts one of the most skilled frontcourts in the game, with former MVPs Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones, and the duo’s combined wingspan and overall physical presence is much greater than what Connecticut has faced in the immediate wake of Brionna Jones’ injury.

Connecticut will also have its hands full with New York’s guards. Sabrina Ionescu and Courtney Vandersloot combined to score 35 points on 13-of-26 shooting when the Liberty defeated the Sun back on May 27, and they’ve continued their strong play since then, with Ionescu dropping 31 points last Sunday against Washington and Vandersloot recording 16 points, 11 assists and seven steals on June 23 against Atlanta.

However the Sun choose to play the Liberty in their quest to even the season series, Tuesday night’s matchup will surely feel like a playoff preview. It leads off a slate of three games, continuing with the Seattle Storm (4-9) and Minnesota Lynx (4-9) at 8 p.m. ET and finishing with a nightcap featuring the Dallas Wings (6-8) and Phoenix Mercury (2-10) at 10 p.m. ET. Both later games will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network.

Game information

New York Liberty (9-3) vs. Connecticut Sun (12-3)

When: 7 p.m. ET

Where: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT

How to watch: WNBA League Pass, NBA TV, NBC Sports Boston, YES

Liberty injury report: Stefanie Dolson (out; ankle), Han Xu (not with team; overseas commitment)

Sun injury report: Brionna Jones (out for season; Achilles)

Seattle Storm (4-9) vs. Minnesota Lynx (4-9)

When: 8 p.m. ET

Where: Target Center in Minneapolis, MN

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, Bally Sports North Extra, FOX 13, Amazon Prime Video (Seattle)

Storm injury report: Jordan Horston (doubtful; shoulder)

Lynx injury report: Diamond Miller (probable; ankle), Tiffany Mitchell (out; wrist), Jessica Shepard (out; illness), Aerial Powers (out; ankle), Natalie Achonwa (not with team; maternity leave)

Dallas Wings (6-8) vs. Phoenix Mercury (2-10)

When: 10 p.m. ET

Where: Footprint Center in Phoenix, AZ

How to watch: CBS Sports Network, AZ Family Sports Network 44, Mercury Live (Livestream), Bally Sports Southwest Extra

Wings injury report: Diamond DeShields (out; knee), Lou Lopez Sénéchal (out; knee)

Mercury injury report: Sophie Cunningham (questionable; back), Shey Peddy (out; Achilles), Megan Gustafson (out; concussion)