Mystics guard Tasha Cloud drives on Jonquel Jones
Mystics 0-0 (2018- 22-12) vs Sun 0-0 (2018 – 21-13)
When: Saturday, May 25th, at 7:30 p.m.
Where: Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT
Mystics: Kiara Leslie – (Out, Torn Meniscus in right knee), Aerial Powers (Out, Left Gluteal injury), Elena Delle Donne (Doubtful, Knee)
82.0 - points per game
79.0 - points against
44.8 - Field goal %
87.6 - points per game
81.7 - points against
46.6 - field goal %
2018 Notes –
Mystics: Washington earned their first trip in franchise history to the WNBA finals after beating the LA Sparks (1-0), Atlanta Dream (3-2) in the second and semifinal rounds of the playoffs before ultimately falling in three straight to the eventual champions Seattle Storm.
Sun: Connecticut finished third in the Eastern Conference with a 21-13 record but fell to the Phoenix Mercury in the second round of the playoffs.
Both teams split 2-2 during their season series.
Keep an eye on:
Battle up front: between the Mystics front court, possibly being without MVP candidate Elena Delle Donne and the Sun’s lethal duo of Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones. Delle Donne is all world, due to her ability to score efficiently from all three levels, draw fouls and find open teammates once doubled, she will be greatly missed at any time but especially against the Sun who are hungry and ultra-talented as well. Look for Meesseman, who is one of the best shooting bigs the WNBA has had (39.1 percent for her career from 3-point range), to lessen the impact if Delle Donne isn’t able to go. During the 2017 season, Meesseman averaged 14.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.8 assist, 1.5 blocks and 1 steal per game on 48 percent shooting from the field. Also look for heavy minutes from center Latoya Sanders (2018-10.2 points, 6.4 rebounds) and physical reserve forwards Tianna Hawkins (2018- 6.3 points, 3.5 rebounds) and Myisha Hines-Allen (2018 – 3.8 points, 2.9 rebounds) to battle the Suns talented and deep front court.
Alyssa Thomas point-forward skill set makes her a nightmare to deal with at forward. Thomas, who averaged 10.3 points, 8.1 rebounds, 4.2 assist and 1.2 steals on 46 percent shooting, is most dangerous pushing the ball in transition, where she can find open shooters or finish herself. Washington’s bigs will have to be aware all game and get back on defense to stop the ball once Thomas gets going. As big time as Thomas is, she may not be the most talented player in the front court on the Sun. That accolade goes to Jonquel Jones. Jones is simply one of the most versatile players in the league. At 6’6, Jones can truly impact the game in every way. During the 2018 season, Jones averaged 11.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game, while playing a sixth woman role for half of the season. However it’s her efficiency scoring the ball (55% FG, 46% 3FG) and ability to defend one through five, is what makes her unique. For Washington to start the season off with a win, they will have to contain Thomas and Jones. It’s no getting around it. Former Terp, Brionna Jones and rookie double double machine Kristine Anigwe are also capable of having an impact.
Jasmine Thomas: Washington must also keep an eye on guard Jasmine Thomas. Last season, she was deadly efficient against the Mystics, averaging 16.2 points and 3.7 assist on 54 percent shooting from the field and 55 percent shooting from three point range. When she had big games, Connecticut won. When she had subpar games, Washington won. Not a coincidence. Expect Tasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins to pay close attention to Thomas defensively.