The Connecticut Sun are finally returning home after spending almost two weeks on the road.
The Sun will host the Chicago Sky for the next two games of their WNBA playoffs semifinal series, which is tied 1-1. Game 3 is Sunday and the fourth game is Tuesday.
Connecticut went to Dallas in the first round and beat the Wings in the decisive Game 3 to advance to the semifinals. Instead of coming home, the Sun flew to Chicago to get ready for the series with the Sky. Connecticut won the opener before falling 85-77 in Wednesday's Game 2.
Now, the team has had a chance to sleep in their own beds and will play in front of their home fans Sunday.
“It’s a huge game, opportunity for us.” Sun head coach Curt Miller said. “We understand what Game 3s look like around our league.”
For the Sun to be successful, they'll have to figure out a way to slow down Candace Parker, who has been dominant on both ends of the court during the first two games of the series — averaging 20.5 points, 11 rebounds, 4.5 blocks and 2.5 steals.
“She’s had so many different great games. Even when she’s having less stats, she’s still doing so many great things on the court like being a great leader," Chicago’s Emma Meesseman said of Parker. "I don’t think there’s enough words. I think that’s your job to find them.
“To just describe what she’s been doing on the court, she’s everywhere. Defense, offense. Off-court, she has been very vocal. I’m happy to be with her in this series because going against her is not fun, I think.”
Here are a few other storylines for Game 3:
Brionna Jones was honored as the league's Sixth Player of the Year on Thursday. She received 53 of 56 votes from a national media panel. Chicago forward Azura Stevens got two votes and Washington's Myisha Hines-Allen the other one. Jones came off the bench in 29 of the Sun’s 36 games and averaged 13.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.2 steals.
TURNNG BACK TIME
Parker knows how difficult it is to win a championship — she got her first title in 2016 with Los Angeles and won her second with Chicago last season.
“It took me nine years to get to the Finals,” she said. “You have an opportunity. This team has an opportunity so we can’t not seize the opportunity. If we’re not going to do it, let’s not do it because they’re just way better than us. And so let’s go out and just play basketball. And I think that’s the way that we lead is that we just have to have the right mindset coming in and we have to be the ones that set the tone.”
The 36-year-old forward is trying to lead the Sky to a repeat — something that hasn't been done in 20 years. She scoffed at the idea that she's playing better now than when she was younger.
“I don’t think so,” Parker said after the Game 2 win. “I think younger CP in the playoffs was more dominant. But I think just mentally understanding moments and things that I didn’t understand when I was fighting to get to the Finals or fighting to win in the playoffs.”
AP freelance writer Gavin Good contributed to this report.
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