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WNBA Finals - Washington Mystics vs Connecticut Sun Game Three Preview

Mystics 26-8 (1-1) vs Connecticut Sun 21-13 (1-1) When: Sunday, October 6th, at 3:30 p.m. Where: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, CT TV: ABC

Injury Mystics: Kiara Leslie – (Out, Torn Meniscus in right knee), Elena Delle Donne (Questionable, Small Disc Herniation), Ariel Atkins (Questionable, Back Spasms) Sun: Layshia Clarendon (Out, Ankle)

Notes – All eyes are on the availability of MVP Elena Delle Donne and Ariel Atkins, both of whom are dealing with back injuries that may keep them out of game three. Below you can find the remaining finals schedule:

Game Three – Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun, Sunday, October 6, 3:30 p.m. ESPN *Game Four – Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, October 8, 8:00 p.m. ESPN 2 *Game Five – Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics, Thursday, October 10, 8:00 p.m. ESPN 2

* - if necessary

Mystics – (Regular Season/ Playoffs) 89.3/ 91.8- points per game 77.3/ 92.2 - points against 46.9/ 47.2 - Field goal %

Sun – (Regular Season/ Playoffs) 80.8/ 88.2- points per game 77.9/ 76.2 - points against 42.3/ 46.1- field goal %

Keep an eye on:

Who Will Step Up?: It is what it is at this point as the Mystics find themselves in a similar situation from a year ago, being banged up in the finals. MVP forward Elena Delle Donne is questionable after being injured in the opening minutes of game two, resulting in a small disc herniation. Second year wing Ariel Atkins is questionable as well due to back spasms. The reality is even if both were to play, neither will be 100 percent, so the questions remains who will step up and fill the void? This is exactly the main reason behind head coach Mike Thibault constructing the roster the way he has with ridiculous depth. It will have to be a team effort with the possibility of two starters being out. Let’s start with the front court of the Mystics. Connecticut’s front line of Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas had their way inside in a game two win. Jones became the first player EVER to post a 32 points, 18 rebound game in the finals and Thomas nearly finished with a triple double, posting 21 points, 12 rebounds and 6 assist. The duo combined to grab 15 offensive rebounds which was nine more than Washington had as a TEAM. Yes when Delle Donne went down, Emma Meesseman (23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assist) and Tianna Hawkins (16 points, 6 rebounds) gave the team great production off the bench offensively, however the lack of physicality overall from the front court is a major concern. The Sun said they would feed Jones more inside, they did little to hide that adjustment heading into game two and the Mystics failed to adjust to slow her down. Now the Sun feel they can beat Washington up inside anytime they want. Washington’s front court will have to answer the challenge physically inside, defending the paint (58-46 Connecticut) and controlling the boards (28-10 second chance points Connecticut) or the series won’t be returning to DC. Center Latoya Sanders has to be more aggressive on both ends inside despite her thin frame. Don’t be surprised to see Aerial Powers get some minutes at the four along with Myisha Hines-Allen, who definitely isn’t afraid to mix it up, getting her first minutes in the finals. As for the backcourt, toughness is never a concern as they battle all positions game in and game out. Their issue is efficient offensive production and slowing down Suns guard Courtney Williams who has torched every defender that has gotten in her way throughout the playoffs. Tasha Cloud and Shatori Walker Kimbrough have to shoot more while Toliver has to be more efficient if Washington is to have any shot at winning game three…especially if Delle Donne and Atkins don’t play. Washington has the skill and know how to win games, although, the will has been questioned throughout this playoff run when they’ve faced physical bigs. Sometimes, winning doesn’t come down to which team has the best skill, or I.Q. or even talent, sometimes it just comes down to who wants the win more? Last Tuesday, Connecticut, with their backs against the wall wanted it more. Now with injuries putting the Mystics in the same position, let’s see if they respond accordingly on Sunday.

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