Three keys for the Connecticut Sun in the final week of the season
What do the Sun need to do to make the playoffs?
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Las Vegas Aces v Connecticut SunPALMETTO, FL - September 3: Natisha Hiedeman #2 of the Connecticut Sun handles the ball against the Las Vegas Aces on September 3, 2020, at the Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. Copyright Notice: Copyright 2020 NBAE (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)
“We only have four games left? … Oh wow I didn’t even know that,” said DeWanna Bonner after the Connecticut Sun’s 93-78 loss to the Las Vegas Aces.
In a whirlwind season where even All-Star players like Bonner forget how many games are left, the Sun have reached the final week and currently sit in seventh place, primed to make the playoffs, though nothing is guaranteed this season.
After the loss to the Aces head coach Curt Miller said he believed his team, which currently has a record of 8-10, needs two more wins to comfortably make the playoffs.
Here’s how the Sun can do it:
1. Get healthy (or more realistically, healthier)
On Aug. 30 the Sun played just eight players, including Jasmine Thomas who did not play in the last three quarters. Fast forward to Sept. 3 against the Aces, Thomas and Alyssa Thomas both did not play due to injuries.
Alyssa Thomas injured her hand several weeks ago in a game and Miller decided that she should rest to try and stop the progression of the injury. She is off the injury report for the game on Sept. 5 against the Indiana Fever but Jasmine Thomas remains doubtful for that game.
The Sun may not be back at full strength with the schedule of having to play every other day, but the team will need to be less banged up as they continue to search for wins against teams close to them in the standings. While the Sun may not be able to get past the Phoenix Mercury in the standings, the team also has games against Indiana and the Atlanta Dream who they beat earlier in the season.
Being down two starters will make winning games difficult, so if the Sun can get even one of them back it could make a difference.
2. Find their outside shot
The Sun made just 20 percent of their threes against the Aces. This has become a pattern for the team this season as Connecticut is second to last in the league in made threes and three-point percentage.
Making threes will open up the rest of the game and make getting points in the paint easier for a team that is successful from behind the arc. Making threes will also give the team more points in fewer shots, something that will help them as they struggle to remain healthy.
3. Limit turnovers
The team averages 14.7 turnovers a game but had 21 against the Aces. Miller noted that minutes were more spread out because Jasmine Thomas and Alyssa Thomas were out, which led to more bench turnovers.
“Did they play more fatigued and make mistakes as they played more minutes? It's hard to tell. I got to go back and watch the film on why we had a high turnover night,” Miller said.
If the Sun can reduce turnovers the team will also reduce their opponents’ points off of turnovers, a win-win situation for the team as they work to make the playoffs.
The Sun return to the court at 4 p.m. ET on Sept. 5 to take on the Fever.