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Another day, another surprising result in the 2022 WNBA playoffs. On Sunday, the sixth-seeded Dallas Wings upset the third-seeded Connecticut Sun in Game 2, winning 89-79 to even the series at 1-1 and force a winner-take-all Game 3 back in Dallas on Wednesday. This was the Wings' first playoff win since 2009, when the franchise was still the Detroit Shock. 

The Wings jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and led by 15 at the end of the first quarter. By early in the fourth quarter they had pushed the advantage up to 31 points, and that seemed like it would be the end of the drama. Then, the Sun went on a furious 22-2 run in the middle of the fourth to put a slight scare into the Wings. It was a classic case of too little, too late, however, as the Wings held on for the season-saving win. 

This was a total team effort from the Wings, as they dominated in every facet and also played with more energy and intensity on both ends of the floor. Kayla Thornton (20 points, five rebounds and four assists), Allisha Gray (15 points, five rebounds, eight assists and three steals) and Teaira McCowan (17 points and 11 rebounds) all had standout performances. 

Reigning MVP Jonquel Jones led the Sun with 20 points and nine rebounds on 6 of 12 shooting from the field, while Brionna Jones and Dijonai Carrington combined for 33 points off the bench. The late surge in the fourth quarter will make the numbers and final deficit look respectable, but this was one of the worst performances of the season for the Sun. 

Here are some key takeaways from the game:

Wings end playoff drought

When you take their entire history into account, the Wings are one of the oldest and most successful franchises in the WNBA. However, the entirety of their accomplishments came during the 12 seasons when they were the Detroit Shock. From 2003-09, they went to the playoffs every year, winning three titles and losing in the Finals on another occasion. 

After 2009, however, things began to fall apart. The team was relocated to Oklahoma and became the Tulsa Shock. They won just 18 games in their first three seasons in Tulsa, and made the playoffs just once in the Tulsa tenure, where they were swept by the Phoenix Mercury in 2015. 

That forgettable era came to an end the next year, as the team moved once again. This time, to Texas, where they did a complete rebrand and became the Dallas Wings. Though slightly more competitive than the Tulsa iteration, there hadn't been much success in Dallas until recently. They lost in the then-single-elimination first round in 2017, 2018 and 2021, and while they did make the playoffs those seasons, they were under .500 each time. 

While they did finish .500 this season and earn the No. 6 seed, their 25-point loss in Game 1 seemed to indicate that it was going to be the same old story in the playoffs. Instead, they came out on fire on Sunday and have broken their 13-year playoff drought. This was their first playoff win since 2009, and the first time they've won an elimination game since 2008. 

Thornton delivers near career night

Kayla Thornton is one of the league's more underrated players, but her value mostly comes from her defense and versatility, not scoring. In Game 2, however, Thornton put together one of the best offensive games of her career to help the Wings get a season-saving win.

Over a three-minute span in the first quarter, Thornton knocked down three straight 3-pointers to get the Wings out to an early double-digit lead. Neither she nor the Wings ever looked back. Thornton finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists on 8-of-12 shooting from the field. This was a new playoff career-high for Thornton and just one point shy of matching her career-high of 21 points. Her four 3s were also tied for a career high. 

There was a brief injury scare in the second half when Thornton took a blow to the face and needed to be checked out by the Wings' medical staff on the bench. Thankfully, she was able to return to the game and should be fine for Game 3, when the Wings will hope for another big night from her. If they get one, they will have a much better chance of wining. 

In the regular season, they were 9-3 when Thornton reached double figures and 9-15 when she did not. However, she only scored in double figures in consecutive games on three occasions. 

Can Wings take advantage of format?

Prior to the season, the league debuted a new playoff format that was generally applauded because it eliminated byes and single-elimination rounds in favor of a standard bracket. The new arrangement is not perfect, however. 

Most notably, there have been various complaints about the best-of-three first round set up being 2-1, meaning the higher-seeded team hosts Games 1 and 2, while the lower-seeded team hosts Game 3, if necessary. By winning Game 2, and tying the series at 1-1, the Wings will now get to go back home for a winner-take-all Game 3 despite having won seven fewer games in the regular season than the Sun. 

Of course, the Wings have to win to actually take advantage of the format. While home court obviously matters in the postseason, it's worth noting that in the regular season the Wings were 8-10 at home, and were one of just two playoff teams with a sub-.500 record at home. The Sun, on the other hand, went 12-6 on the road this season, which was second only to the Las Vegas Aces for the best road record in the league.