With the WNBA season in the homestretch, not only are teams revving up for playoff pushes, players are making cases for individual awards.
In the case of Connecticut Sun forward Alyssa Thomas, one of her teammates is vouching for her as the league's Defensive Player of the Year.
"If you really know basketball and just watch (Thomas) play defense," guard DiJonai Carrington wrote on Twitter, "you'll see what I'm saying."
Thomas will get another shot to stake her claim on the honor Tuesday night when Connecticut opens a two-game home series with the Phoenix Mercury in Uncasville, Conn.
The 6-foot-2, ninth-year pro out of Maryland leads the Sun (20-10) in steals with 1.7 per game and is sixth in the league in rebounding at 8.0 per game. For good measure, Thomas is chipping in 13.5 points and dishing out a career-high 6.1 assists a game.
In Sunday's 95-92 overtime home loss to Chicago, Thomas turned in a typical well-rounded effort with 22 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and five steals. Connecticut also got 23 points from DeWanna Bonner, but fell two games behind Las Vegas for the No. 2 seed in the playoffs with six games left.
While the Sun are playoff-bound and in good shape to have home-court advantage for the first round, Phoenix (13-17) is essentially in playoff mode already since they have not yet locked down a postseason spot. After an 89-69 loss Sunday in New York, the Mercury are seventh in what will be an eight-team playoff field, just a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks and a game up on the Atlanta Dream.
Phoenix made just 37.5 percent of its field goal attempts against New York, going 6 of 25 from 3-point range. Given that the Mercury have gone to a small-ball lineup because of the season-long loss of Brittney Griner, those numbers are problematic.
The Mercury also made waves in a way that might not win them calls from the officials. Team president Vince Kozar was fined after Thursday's 90-80 win over Los Angeles after a tweet criticizing officials.
"The officiating that was on display in Phoenix tonight was an embarrassment to this league, unworthy of its players and unfair to its fans," Kozar wrote.
Phoenix and Connecticut will return to the court in order to complete the back-to-back Thursday.
--Field Level Media