What the Monarchs and Sun Must Do in Game 3
More Necessary Adjustments
The Sacramento Monarchs got out to an early lead in this Best-of-Five series with a big road win in Game 1, but the Connecticut Sun snared the momentum back with a huge come-from-behind overtime win in Game 2. Brooke Wyckoff's three-pointer at the end of regulation essentially saved the season for Connecticut. However, the road gets much tougher for the Sun, both figuratively and literally as Sacramento hosts Games 3 and 4 beginning on Sunday (ABC, 4 p.m. ET). With an extra day of rest in betweem, here is what some of the game's most respected experts had to say after Game 2and in preparation for Game 3:
"Sacramento is not going to panic as they had
the lead at half and played Connecticut close. I personally don't think the Monarchs
played that well, either. Connecticut made some really good adjustments between
Games 1 and 2 even on the offensive end in response to the defense that Sacramento
plays. The Monarchs had to get the split, though it did not look good at the end.
At the end of Game 2, Sacramento focused on Douglas and Sales and were going to
give up that shot to McWilliams-Franklin, but she found Brooke Wyckoff in the
corner. We have seen some big shots in WNBA history, but not one was bigger. Perhaps
Weatherspoon's shot in 1999 to send it to a Game 3 in Houston, but Brooke's shot
essentially saved Connecticut's season as well.
This series is about matchups. In Game 2, Sacramento did not hit the boards as well and foul trouble certainly limited them down the stretch. Chelsea Newton got in foul trouble early and was taken out of the rotations, Brunson got in foul trouble and then Griffith got in some trouble down the stretch and that really affected them. You saw a Connecticut team that was much more aggressive tonight. The Sun got to the free throw line, but had they not won Game 2, it would have been their own fault for not hitting free throws. The Sun have to do a better job at the line.
The momentum is important for Connecticut, certainly. I thought the crowd was definitely a factor and I think that the crowd in Sacramento will be a factor. Had Brooke Wyckoff hit the three-pointer at the end of Game 1, even though they were down 4, if might have given them something to rally around. Certainly any shot or any big play gives you something positive to have in your mind. Coaches know that this is not a two-game series. Now it will go four and possibly to five games. Either team is capable of winning."
"Connecticut has the momentum now, there is no question about that, but Sacramento can erase a little bit of that as they will be infused with energy from their home crowd. To me, Sacramento has one of the most special buildings this league has. Connecticut was great for Game 2 and expect the same for Sacramento - all that energy. I thought Mike Thibault made great adjustments between Game 1 and 2. I firmly believe he is the best coach in the league because he is balanced and made all the right things happen on the floor. All the things he asked his team to do in Game 1 but could not, they came through for him in Game 2. The kept the floor spread, ran their transition and got some great baskets in the first half, they rebounded and will need to stay close. The Sun also established their post game as well. Taj was absent in Game 1, not nearly as assertive as she needed to be. But in Game 2, she showed why she is an MVP candidate. She had a huge game.
Now Connecticut still has to go steal one. Sacramento got the split they needed and now go back to a building where they give up only 55 points per game. The Monarchs' defense is good, but it seems to get even better at home. That is scary. But I'm so glad we have a series now. I was afraid that had Connecticut lost Game 2, we no longer had a series. We've got a series!"
Rebecca Lobo, WNBA.com and ESPN Analyst:
"The momentum shift is obvious. For Connecticut to win Game 2 without Lindsay Whalen is unbelievable for them. I expect them to take this and build on it as their confidence will be sky-high. If Whalen is able to play on Sunday, it will give them an even bigger boost. It is obviously tough for opposing teams in Sacramento, but Connecticut just needs to get one win there, then they can come back here and play again on their home court. Sacramento is still in great shape. They did get the split and go home to ARCO, which is one of the toughest places to play. They were 15-2 at home this season and Connecticut was one of the two teams that was able to beat them there. The Monarchs need to be extremely happy with the win, though I think they would have preferred it to be in the other order, winning the second game so they would have the momentum heading back home heading to the West coast."
Matt Wurst, WNBA.com Editor:
"Wow, that was a huge win for Connecticut. Everyone was talking about a sweep near the end of regulation with Sacramento up three, but it looks like we get to stay in Northern California a few extra days now. The Sun relied on their three veteran stars to carry them in Game 2 in the absence of their floor leader, and no one came up bigger than Taj McWilliams-Franklin. She scored, she rebounded and when it came right down to it, she made the game-saving pass. But just like trying to fit McWilliams-Franklin and Olympia Scott-Richardson's name on the back of their jerseys, momentum is also a tricky thing. Will it really mean much in two days from now when a sea of purple is looking to swallow the Sun? Connecticut will need to stay patient (with or without Lindsay Whalen) and keep waiting for the right player to open up. Sacramento needs to stay out of foul trouble and fight harder on the glass. That was their forte in Game 1, but they got away from it in Game 2. All that said, the game was theirs had it not been for the big shot at the end. I have a feeling we'll be back in Connecticut in a week from now, but for now, we'll see everyone from Sac-town."