The Las Vegas Aces will look to close out the Connecticut Sun in the 2022 WNBA Finals on Thursday after winning the first two games of the best-of-five series. Game 3 will be played in Connecticut, with tip-off scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
If the Aces are going to complete the series sweep, they’d probably prefer to win in a manner closer to that of Game 2 than Game 1. After sipping by the Sun in a tight, low-scoring affair to open the Finals, Las Vegas looked more like the team that earned the WNBA’s No. 1 playoff seed in Game 2, leading by as many as 20 points behind stellar play from guards Chelsea Gray and Kelsey Plum and regular-season MVP A’ja Wilson. The trio combined to score 67 of the Aces’ 85 points despite being held scoreless on the fast break for the second-straight game.
As the Finals shift to Connecticut, the onus will naturally be on the Sun and head coach Curt Miller to make adjustments and extend the series in front of their home crowd — an environment that has historically not been kind to opponents. The Sun dropped their only home game against Las Vegas during the 2022 regular season, though it’s important to note that they were without star center Jonquel Jones, who was in the league’s health and safety protocols.
While Jones and the rest of the Sun frontcourt have played well enough through the first two games of the series, Connecticut needs considerably more from its backcourt if it’s going to avoid getting swept. Specifically, DeWanna Bonner shot just 1-of-9 from the field in both Game 1 and Game 2, while the Sun’s starting backcourt of Natisha Hiedeman (in for Jasmine Thomas, who has missed most of the season with a torn ACL) and Courtney Williams has been inconsistent at best.
That’s not going to get it done against Plum and Gray, especially when they’re playing at the level they did in Game 2. Basketball is a team sport, to be sure, especially on the defensive end, but the Las Vegas backcourt is arguably the best in the WNBA at making tough shots and has had success against Connecticut’s second-ranked defense (96.3 points allowed per 100 possessions) through the sheer amount of physical advantages it creates.
With that in mind, we’ll see if the Sun turn up the defensive pressure now that their backs are against the wall. Las Vegas has turned the ball over just 17 times in the first two games of the series, and while it’s easier said than done to get a team with so many weapons off balance without compromising one’s own defense, Connecticut’s struggles in the halfcourt are a major reason why the Sun find themselves in the position they’re in. The Sun have one of the WNBA’s best players at manufacturing transition offense in forward Alyssa Thomas, and any series comeback attempt will likely begin with her.
As for Las Vegas, the approach will probably remain the same: Get the ball to the MVP as much as possible and attack Connecticut’s weaker perimeter defenders with whichever guard they’re matched up against to keep things balanced. Wilson has been magnificent thus far in the Finals, averaging 25 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games to go along with 2.5 blocks; expect her to continue to make big plays as the Aces gun for their first championship in franchise history.