UNCASVILLE, Conn. – With their backs against the wall (again) in the WNBA playoffs, the Connecticut Sun have found another tool. The path leads to the player they call “the machine”, Alyssa Thomas.
Thursday was her first triple-double in WNBA Finals history as the Suns defeated the Las Vegas Aces 105-76 in Game 3 of the best-of-five series after losing the first two games in the famous sweep. If anyone thought the Suns would screw up… well, no one who follows the WNBA thinks so. Not just the character of Surya.
They lost a close 1 match on Sunday and a close 2 match on Tuesday at the Michelob Ultra Arena in Las Vegas. But back home in front of their fans at Mohegan Sun Arena, the Suns have their mojo to force Game 4, to be held here in Connecticut on Sunday (4pm EST, ESPN).
“If you add Connecticut, it’s going to be very physical and tough,” Taker coach Becky Hammon said of The Sun. “They had a battle type mentality and we didn’t fit in that night, in any department. They kicked our ass any way we could.”
Thomas, who finished the game with 16 points, 15 rebounds and 11 assists, Hammon said: “It’s horrible. I went to the UFC fight last night; I don’t want to go in the cage with him. It’s very difficult. .Playmaker”.
Thomas, who is 6-foot-2, pick no. 4 in the 2014 WNBA Draft from Maryland, leading the Women’s Final Four in her final year.
Thomas is a tough – if not impossible – player for anyone in the WNBA to compare to. His lingering shoulder injuries (both labrum tears that were not surgically repaired) prevented him from getting a true jump shot, but that wasn’t a problem. Thomas finds his way to get the ball into the ring, he is very smart and strong, hard to stop.
Thomas is essentially a point forward, how much he handles the ball and tries to create chances for his teammates. And bounce? Well, as Hammon says, there’s nothing about Thomas that would make you think you’d beat him or attack him.
“The great thing is it happens every day,” Suns coach Curt Miller said of Thomas’ strength. “He doesn’t know how to play otherwise.” “He might be the toughest player I’ve ever coached, but he’s the most consistent player I’ve worked with.”
The Suns lacked consistency in some ways in the first two games of the finals, putting them in win-or-go-home mode. But they faced it in the first round when they had to travel to Dallas for a best-of-three draw and a place in the semi-finals, and when they defeated two-time defending champions Chicago in the Sky main arena, including in the decider 5.
On Thursday, the Aces started 9-2, but that’s how much they controlled this game. As if flipping the switch, the Suns’ power level rose dramatically and they went up 34-19 after the first quarter. By game’s end, all Suns players had scored in double figures, led by 2021 MVP Jonquil Jones’ 20 points.
Bonner Office, after going 2 of 18 from the field in the first two games of the finals, went 8 of 15 on Thursday for 18 points, as well as helping hold the Aces guard. Chelsea Gray on 11 points.
But the star of the night was Thomas, whose triple double was her third of the season, also a WNBA record. There have been 19 three-way doubles in WNBA history — three in the playoffs, another by Chicago’s Courtney Vandersloot and Houston’s Sherrill Supes — but they’re rarer than ever. Eight of the 19 came this season and two came last season.
It reflects a game without a center, which the NBA sees as the NBA. In Thomas’ case, it has to do with his ability to play as a real post, as well as someone who can and does make things happen for himself or his teammates.
And on a night when the solar season might be over, Thomas led the way, wanting to continue.
“For me, I approached the match as if I was approaching another match,” Thomas said. “I think we just wanted to. We battled offensively. We didn’t shoot and we were ready tonight.”