The Connecticut Sun are game-planning to get Jonquel Jones more involved in the WNBA Finals after their versatile 6-foot-6 center took just eight shots in the opener.
Jones, who led the team in scoring and rebounding during the regular season, will try to get more in the flow Tuesday night in Game 2.
“I don’t know how many shots I had, but it didn’t feel like it was too many,” said Jones, who averaged 14.6 points and 9.7 rebounds during the regular season and was an efficient 5-for-8 from the field in Game 1. “It was just the rhythm of the game, honestly.”
The Mystics have three players they use to defend Jones: 6-5 Elena Delle Donne, 6-3 LaToya Sanders and 6-4 Emma Meesseman, and the trio combined to score 38 points in their nine-point Game 1 victory.
Jones was the only member of the Sun’s starting five not to take double-digit field goal attempts. A fact that the Mystics expect to change on Tuesday night.
“Jonquel, she’s a great player,” Delle Donne said. “She makes some really tough shots. She’s got length, so you can send bodies at her, and she can elevate and shoot over, but we were able to dig. The guards were able to help me a lot on those digs. She’s going to get her points, but you try to limit them and make it hard.”
While the Mystics big trio stymied Jones on the defensive end, they also were dominant on the offensive end when they were all on the floor early.
Coach Mike Thibault inserted his three posts together in the first quarter and they helped the Mystics close out the quarter with a 12-0 run. He would have loved to go to them more, but Meesseman picked up two fouls and he had to adjust.
“It definitely changes the game when we are out there together,” Sanders said.
Connecticut spent much of the open part of practice Monday working on playing offense and defense against the bigger lineup. Miller though did downplay its effectiveness saying that the Sun were only minus-3 or 4 against it since the team did a much better job in the third quarter playing against it.
In the three regular season meetings Thibault didn’t have the option to go to the big lineup. Delle Donne missed the first game because of knee pain. Meesseman missed the final two games because she was training with the Belgium national team.
“With Elena’s length, we tried to make it tough on her,” Thibault said. “She shoots the turnaround pretty well against us. We tried to limit her catches a little bit more by denying post entry passes to her.”
The Mystics were also able to contain Jones on the offensive boards where she normally gets a few easy putbacks. She had no offensive rebounds in Game 1.
“They did a great job on limiting her there,” Sun coach Curt Miller said. “She’s usually good for three or four offensive rebounds that lead to points.”
Both the Mystics and the Sun expect to see a more aggressive Jones in Game 2.
Notes: Jasmine Thomas celebrated her 30th birthday on Monday. … Miller said that guard Layshia Clarendon was questionable for Game 2. She recently was cleared to play after missing a few months with a freakish injury to her right ankle suffered in practice in late June. Miller said he doesn’t want to put Clarendon into a tough position in her return and may wait until Game 3 to allow his backup point guard a few more days to heal. … The Mystics were the talk of Wizards media day , which was being held in the same facility. “”I know the Wizards gotta get rolling, man, because the Mystics, they’re about to bring in that hardware,” Bradley Beal said. “And before you know it, that’s two for Ted. And the Wizards, they’re going to be sending those frowny faces.”
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