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Sun aware of their issues in Game 1 of WNBA Finals

Washington — Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller was rattling statistics and numbers off his dome following Monday’s practice for Game 2 of the WNBA Finals.

Miller had the number of “empty possessions” to end the first quarter of Sunday’s Game 1 loss to the Washington Mystics (six). He knew how often Washington scored or was fouled in one-on-one situations (13 of 18 possessions).

Miller was commended for being able to remember those exact numbers.

“Long nights,” Miller grinned.

Connecticut plays the Mystics in Game 2 of the best-of-five series on Tuesday (8 p.m., ESPN) at the Entertainment and Sports Arena.

The sentiment in the Sun locker room after Sunday’s 95-86 loss was that they didn’t do a good enough job contesting the Mystics’ shots.

“When you go back and analyze the whole game. ... there were 18 opportunities for (Washington) to go one-on-one with no ball screen help, with no action, it was just mano-y-mano, one-on-one penetration,” Miller said.

“They scored or got fouled on 13 of the 18 (one-on-one opportunities). … That’s what (my team) felt (dissatisfied with). They didn’t have those statistics at that point, but that’s what they felt that they need to be better, out of system, when (the Mystics) just put their heads down and go make a play.”

Connecticut was terrific defensively in its three-game sweep of Los Angeles in the semifinals. It held the Sparks to 39.1 percent shooting.

Washington shot 72.2 percent in the first quarter to take a 30-17 lead Sunday, shooting 54 percent overall.

“Defense is the main thing. It’s how we do everything,” Sun post Jonquel Jones said. “It’s how we get into transition and all that stuff. It’s one-on-one defense. I think that’s the biggest thing, just being able to stay down on them making their iso moves because we can’t rely on help this series.

“We had TRP (Tierra Ruffin-Pratt) and we had Alana (Beard) in the last series that we could kind of help off of. … Not in this series. Everybody can shoot (on Washington).”

The Mystics shot a league-high 46.9 percent this season.

“You’ve got to stay locked in and not rely on the help,” Jones said.

The final 2 minutes, 35 seconds of the first quarter haunted the Sun all game as they were outscored 12-0.

Connecticut outscored the Mystics over the final three quarters 69-65.

“That 12-0 run to end the first quarter was really, really hurtful,” Miller said. “And again, most of that was six empty possessions. … Four of them were turnovers.”

Connecticut is also aware that it must get Jones more touches. She took just eight shots on Sunday, fewer than any of her other starters (the rest took 10-or-more).

Jones was the Sun’s leading scorer during the regular season (14.6) and second in field goal attempts (11.4).

“The thing that Washington does better than anybody else in this league against us is they keep JJ off the offensive glass,” Miller said.

Jones led the league in offensive rebounds (113) and rebounds (330).

“They face-guard, box her out,” Miller said. “They do a really good job hitting her early and often as shots go up and don’t release and go get the ball. And so JJ has averaged one offensive rebound against them this year and they have to be commended for that. … It magnifies the shot attempts she’s getting because she’s not getting those two-or-three extra put-backs that she does against everybody else in the league. So we just have to play through JJ in the paint and we’ve got to get AT (Alyssa Thomas) into the paint.”

Jones said, “When I caught (the ball), when I tried to make moves in the post, they were sending a double (team), so I was kicking it back out. It didn’t feel like it was hard for me to get the ball.”

n.griffen@theday.com

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