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    Monday, December 11, 2023

    Before we think about Game 5, let's enjoy the spectacular Game 4

    Mohegan — The greatest single sound in the history of sports inside Mohegan Sun Arena happened Tuesday night. It was neither a clap nor a cheer. Neither the music's blare nor an announcer's flair.

    It was a gasp. A shrieking, but melodious, gasp.

    From most of the 8,458 fans, anyway, the ones not wearing the red of the Mystics, but the Orange of the Sun. It was near the end of the game, the greatest game inside the history of the arena, with the Sun leading by one.

    The Sun: Season teetering, treacherously close to playoff elimination inside their home gym for the third straight season.

    The Mystics: A made basket away from a championship.

    And so there was Washington's Aerial Powers, yawningly open on the right baseline in front of the Sun bench. Sun 87, Mystics 86. Final minute. How was she THAT open? How was anybody that open? And with the way the Mystics have been shooting? Oy. Praise the Lord and pass the Mylanta. Or the Maker's Mark. Whatever you grab first.

    If the shot goes in, a shot Powers has probably made a thousand times in her life, the Sun are done. The Mystics celebrate.

    The ball left Powers' hand. And they gasped inside Neon Uncasville. A noise befitting the circumstances.

    Right there, in one sound — one moment — the audio track illustrated the enormity of it all without any words needed.

    Aerial Powers missed.

    The Sun grabbed the rebound and will live another day.

    Sun 90, Mystics 86.

    They travel to Washington, D.C. for the next biggest game in each franchise's history, Game Five, Thursday night. It's the game that will change lives, make careers and write history. It's the game that will be discussed and dissected all off season.

    Which means that by Thursday, the shapes and forms of Tuesday night — the greatest game in the history of Mohegan Sun Arena — will be forgotten. It's sports. Part of the deal.

    But while Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, the Connecticut franchise will at least have Tuesday night, the night they sent their fans home happy — and maybe even made a few new ones, too. The 18-point lead that became a five-point deficit by the fourth quarter only added to the allegory. It was reminiscent of the last time the place was this loud, the first time the Sun ever made the finals. They beat Seattle and Sue Bird that night, prompting Nykesha Sales to say after the game, "yo, it was LIVE in there tonight."

    It was LIVE in there Tuesday, too. Can't recall a din like that in a long time.

    Funny thing, though, about players and coaches. They never take time to dissect the moment when they're in it. So those of us who want to take the opportunity to appreciate the event don't always get our questions answered.

    Like asking Alyssa Thomas if she ever remembered playing in a game that crazy, with the emotional pendulum swinging harder than Aaron Judge.

    "Probably not," A.T. said stone faced.

    When pressed further, Thomas wore that "well, duh" look and said, "it's the finals."

    Thomas' teammates all answered similarly.

    Mystics coach Mike Thibault, meanwhile, was talking about the free throw discrepancy between the combined attempts of Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman (three) as opposed to Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones (16). Coach T wasn't likely in the mood to talk about aesthetics. Can't blame him.

    But the rest of us saps? We sure can. And should. Because for all the times the "look at how far women's basketball has come" theme has been contrived, this was a night when it was more accurate than Delle Donne's three-point shot. The athleticism on the floor, quality of play, drama of the moment and frantic atmosphere sustains the old line that they've come a long way, baby.

    And we were fortunate enough to experience it.

    Nobody knows what happens Thursday night. It's the game that determines everything. Which means Tuesday will be forgotten within the next news cycle. Yep. Due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, the greatest game in the history of Mohegan Sun Arena becomes an afterthought soon enough.

    Let's try to enjoy it as long as we can anyway.

    A group gasp never sounded so good.

    This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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