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    Sunday, September 24, 2023

    Sun can clinch at least a No. 3 seed with win in Los Angeles

    Connecticut Sun head coach Curt Miller is expected to rejoining the team in time for Tuesday night’s game against the Sparks in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

    The Connecticut Sun, at least for now, can put the Chicago Sky in their rear view mirror.

    Chicago, the reigning WNBA champion and Connecticut’s recent nemesis, completed a four-game sweep of the Sun with a 94-91 win on Sunday.

    But Connecticut (22-11) is still in a great spot with only three games remaining in the regular season.

    The Sun play the Los Angeles Sparks twice this week at the Crypto.com Arena, and win on Tuesday (10:30 p.m., NESN Plus) will clinch no worse than the No. 3 seed for the upcoming WNBA playoffs.

    The two teams will play again on Thursday night before the Sun return to Mohegan Sun Arena on Sunday to play the Minnesota Lynx in the regular-season finale at 1 p.m.

    Connecticut still has an outside shot of passing the Las Vegas (22-10) for the No. 2 seed behind Chicago (26-9), but needs to finish ahead of the Aces, who own the tiebreaker by virtue of winning the season series 2-1.

    The Sun, meanwhile, lead fourth-place Seattle (20-13) by two games and fifth-place Washington (20-14) by 2.5 games, and hold the tiebreaker over both.

    But while Connecticut is playing for a high seed, the Sparks (13-20) are fighting for their playoff lives. They are one of six teams battling for the final three playoff berth, joined by Dallas (16-16), Atlanta (14-19), Phoenix (14-19), New York (13-19) and Minnesota (13-20). Dallas hosted New York on Monday night with a chance to clinch one of those postseason spots.

    The Sun will have to play better defense against Los Angeles after allowing Chicago to shoot 57% from the floor on Sunday.

    They haven’t played the Sparks since May 14, a 77-60 win at home. In that game, Alyssa Thomas led Connecticut with 23 points and 11 rebounds. Thomas, who was named the WNBA Player of the Month in July, is the only player to start all 33 games for the Sun and is averaging 13.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and a team-high 6.3 assists.

    Reigning WNBA MVP Jonquel Jones leads Connecticut in scoring (14.4) and rebounding (8.6). Los Angeles is led by All-Star forward Nneka Ogwumike, who leads the Sparks in scoring (18.4) and rebounding (6.7).

    Sun head coach and general manager Curt Miller, who missed Sunday’s game in Chicago while spending time with his family following the death of his mother Bev, was expected to rejoin the team in Los Angeles on Monday.

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