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Natisha Hiedeman #2 of the Connecticut Sun handles the ball against the Phoenix Mercury on September 9, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via GettyImages)
“We're in the playoffs and didn't have any major injuries tonight. Mission accomplished,” Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller said after the team’s 82-75 loss to the Atlanta Dream.
The team had already secured playing in the 6/7 game against the Chicago Sky on Tuesday, Sept. 15. While the Sun may not have won, not getting any new injuries may have been the biggest win of the night.
The Sun were able to play their starters to maintain the rhythm of the team, but also give players rest that needed it.
Jasmine Thomas, who has been dealing with plantar fasciitis, played the first 5:25 minutes of the game.
“Jas wanted to play, but also be smart. And we were on the same page. I wanted to see what she looked like, up and down the floor. We don't get to practice so you don't get into that full speed, full cutting … She's not going to be 100 percent, but try to get her as healthy as possible for Tuesday,” Miller said after the game.
DeWanna Bonner and Alyssa Thomas, who are both top five in minutes played this season, both were able to get at least 10 extra minutes of rest on the bench Friday night in preparation for the playoffs.
The Sun also had an opportunity to play against talented guards, something that will help them against Chicago.
Natisha Hiedeman, who has played more since Jasmine Thomas began having trouble with her plantar fasciitis, was one guard who played increased minutes against the Dream.
In 28 minutes she had 13 points, one rebound and four assists, proving once again she can step up when needed. With Thomas still not fully available and Briann January nursing a finger injury, Hiedeman will have to step up against the Sky and their talented set of guards.
She was 3-5 from behind the arc against the dream, something that impressed Miller.
“The way they were electing to guard some of our ball screens we knew that some of our second team guards were going to have the ability to have shots behind screens and we didn't want to fall in love with the three but we tried to encourage them Natisha, like, that's the game if you were guarded like that at Marquette you'd have 30. And I think you saw some of the confidence that she can display with her shooting in the second half and just try to keep her aggressive,” he said.
Additionally, Bria Holmes announced on Sept. 12 that she would be departing Bradenton, Fl. after suffering a knee injury against the Phoenix Mercury on Sept 9. While Holmes struggled to get going this season, she was still able to provide valuable minutes off the bench, something the Sun will miss during the playoffs. The rest of the bench will have to step up in her absence.
The Sun have just their third extended break of the season, after the first game against the Phoenix Mercury was rescheduled to Sept. 7, something the players are excited for.
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis believes that the break will give players time to get healthy saying, “I think it's gonna be good for our whole team, we have some people banged up and it's been a rough regular season playing every other day and like you said not having that break because of the makeup game. So those three days we have before we start the playoffs is going to be really nice for us.”
“The more reps, the more better we get and [and have a chance to] build our chemistry so being able to have a couple practices and preparing for the game we're just going to make sure we're locked into our game plan and also focus on what we can do better. I know my coaches are going to find a balance where we're not going too hard and we're resting our bodies for Tuesday,” Kaila Charles said.
The Sun return to the court Tuesday against the Sky at 7 p.m. ET.