Washington Mystics vs New York Liberty Preview
Mystics 0-0 vs Liberty 0-0
When: Friday, May 19th, at 7:00p.m.
Where: Entertainment & Sports Arena
TV: NBA TV, NBC Sports Washington
Mystics: Myisha Hines-Allen (Out, Kneecap )
Liberty: Nyara Sabally (Out ), Marine Johannes (Out)
Keep an eye on:
Star Studded Front Courts: is something that I'm sure all viewers can't wait to see for the first time. For Washington, everything starts and ends with perennial all star Elena Delle Donne (17.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.3 apg). Delle Donne, when healthy, is a MVP candidate and one of the most efficient players the game has had.
Shakira Austin (8.7 ppg, 6.5 rpg), enters her second season looking to make a leap in her overall game. An WNBA All Rookie Team selection, Austin stated all 32 games during the 2022 season and scored in double figures 14 times and finished with four double doubles. With a year under her belt, it's not far fetched to envision Austin being a double double machine and defensive anchor inside for Washington.
Joining Delle Donne and Austin is the Mystics new addition on the wing, Brittney Sykes. Sykes (12.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.7 apg, 2.0 spg) has developed into one of the most underrated wings on both ends of the floor in the WNBA. During the 2022 season, Sykes appeared in 32 games, including 24 starts, and led the WNBA in total steals with 65. She's also a shifty, dynamic scorer and playmaker. Add in veterans Myisha Hines Allen, Tianna Hawkins and Amanda Zahui B. and you should further understand how talented, experienced and deep Washington's front line is.
They'll need all hands on deck to deal with the Liberty's all world front court.
The Liberty quickly shook up the basketball world by signing the two most coveted free agents in the league in Breanna Stewart and Jonquel Jones. The addition of these two All WNBA performers, immediately vaulted New York into championship contention. Stewart (21.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.6 spg), a two time champion and four time all star returns home where she aims to capture another championship, this time for her home state. Stewie is one of the greatest players of all time and the scary thing is, she's just entering her prime. Jonquel Jones (14.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg) is arguably the most versatile player in the WNBA. With a centers size (6'6) along with the athleticism and skill of guard, Jones is match-up nightmare and one teams have to double constantly to keep the ball out of her hands. The scary thing is, now, it will be very hard to double Jones with Stewie on the floor and vice versa.
This front court battle will be special and could be a preview of a championship match-up stay tuned.
Backcourt Battle: is an understatement. The Mystics brings one of the best in the business and without question the best defensive backcourt in Natasha Cloud and Ariel Atkins. Cloud (10 ppg, 7 apg, 3.6 rpg) ran the show beautifully for Washington, dishing out a WNBA leading seven assists per game, while remaining one of the elite defensive players in the W.
Atkins (14.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.4 spg) earned her second straight WNBA All Star nod due to her excellence on both ends. Atkins scored in double figures in 32 games and nailed a career best 70 three pointers during the 2022 season. Backing them up are key rotation players in Shatori Walker-Kimbrough and long time assassin as well as Maryland legend, Kristi Toliver.
New York presents a back court with elite playmaking with Sabrina Ionescu and the newly acquired Courtney Vandersloot. Ionescu (17.4 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 6.3 apg) is a triple double threat every time she steps on the floor and also plays with a edge. Her and the Mystics back court have had some battles in the past. Vandersloot (11.8 ppg, 6.5 apg, 3.9 rebounds) is one of the best playmakers in WNBA history. She is a six time assists leader, including five straight seasons from 2017-2021 and holds the record for most assists in a season (300), highest assists per game in a season (9.1) and the highest career assists per game (6.2). She's lethal when it comes to making her teammates better. Making matters worse, Vandersloot shot 48 percent from the field and 36 percent from deep during the 2022 season.
The play from the back court I feel will determine the winner of this season opener between these two teams and ultimately, it will come down to which backcourt controls the game, controls the pace....not necessarily who has the better numbers. Both teams have experience, top tier talent, depth and champions on the roster, however, Washington has the edge in chemistry with their core having been intact for a number of years while this will be the first game for this current Liberty team. With the edge in chemistry and having one of the best home courts in the W, the Mystics are in prime position to remind the basketball world of just how potent they can be when healthy.