2019 WNBA Finals: Three things to know about the Washington Mystics vs. Connecticut Sun series
Game 1 of the Finals is set for Sunday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
Just as soon as this WNBA season began, it's nearly reached its conclusion. On Sunday afternoon, thein D.C., as the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun battle to be crowned the league's newest champion.
After losing in the Finals last season, the Mystics secured the best record in the league this time around thanks to an MVP campaign from Elena Delle Donne, a historic offense and a 17-2 record in the second half of the season. They earned a bye to the semifinals, where they faced a tough test from the Las Vegas Aces, but advanced by winning that series 3-1.
As for the Sun, they also earned a bye to the semis, which was great news for them after they lost in the single-elimination second round in each of the past two seasons. There, they faced a veteran Los Angeles Sparks team, but had little trouble, cruising to a three-game sweep to reach their first Finals since 2005.
Ahead of the action, here's how to watch every game, as well as three important things to know.
Finals (best-of-five series) -- Start Sunday, Sept. 29
All times Eastern
- Game 1: Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics, Sunday, Sept. 29, 3 p.m. -- TV: ESPN | Streaming: WatchESPN
- Game 2: Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics, Tuesday, Oct. 1, 8 p.m. -- TV: ESPN | Streaming: WatchESPN
- Game 3: Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun, Sunday, Oct. 6, 3:30 p.m. -- TV: ABC | Streaming: WatchESPN
- Game 4*: Washington Mystics at Connecticut Sun, Tuesday, Oct. 8, 8 p.m. -- TV: ESPN | Streaming: WatchESPN
- Game 5*: Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics, Thursday, Oct. 10, 8 p.m. -- TV: ESPN | Streaming: WatchESPN
In the first 22 seasons of the WNBA's existence, only eight teams have won titles. The now-defunct Houston Comets have four, and so too do the Minnesota Lynx. Meanwhile, the now-defunct Detroit Shock have three, along with the Los Angeles Sparks, Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm. The only other two titles belong to the also defunct Sacramento Monarchs and the Indiana Fever. As some simple math will tell you, that means seven of the current 12 franchises have never won a title. That includes the Mystics and Sun, each of whom are searching for their first title in franchise history.
This is the second appearance for the Mystics, who also made it to the Finals last season, but were swept by the Storm -- in large part due to Elena Delle Donne's knee injury. As for the Sun, they're making their third trip to the Finals after losing in back-to-back seasons in 2004 and 2005.
By the time we reach the Finals, there is always going to be aon the floor. It's not often, however, that so much of it is concentrated in the frontcourt. That's absolutely the case in this series, though, with each team featuring multiple All-Star forwards.
The Mystics are led by Delle Donne, the newly crowned MVP and the only member of the 50/40/90 club in WNBA history. She's one of the best offensive players the league has ever seen, and is a handful for even the best defenders, as the Aces found out in the semis. By her side is Emma Meesseman, who herself would have joined the 50/40/90 club if she'd played enough games this season. But, she's here for the playoffs this time after sitting out last season to focus on her national team responsibilities with Belgium. Her importance to this team was obvious in the semis with her lights-out shooting from all over the court.
On the other side, the Sun are led by an MVP candidate of their own, Jonquel Jones, who finished third in the voting this season behind Delle Donne and Brittney Griner. Back in the starting lineup this season after Chiney Ogwumike's departure, Jones established herself as one of the best bigs in the league. She can score inside and out, and is an elite rebounder and rim protector. Her frontcourt partner, Alyssa Thomas, couldn't be more different, but she's just as important to this Sun team. Operating as a point forward, Thomas is the engine behind the Sun's offensive attack. She's also a physical, versatile defender and is often described as a bully.
Not only will the frontcourt battle be important to who wins this series, but it should be highly entertaining as all four players are super talented, but in quite different ways.
Let it fly
The Mystics and Sun were two of the best offensive teams in the regular season, and it's no surprise that strong 3-point attacks were big reasons for each team's success. The 3-point revolution hasn't arrived in the WNBA in quite the same way as it has in the NBA, but that's not for lack of trying by these two teams.
During the regular season, the Mystics finished first in the league in 3-point attempts at 25.4 per game and second in efficiency at 36.7 percent, while the Sun ranked fifth in attempts at 21 per game and third in efficiency at 35.6 percent. Meanwhile, the Mystics scored 31.2 percent of their points from downtown, which led the league, while the Sun were third in that category at 27.7 percent.
On a player level, eight of the 30 most efficient 3-point shooters in the league are playing in this series, including Delle Donne, who finished fourth in the league at 43 percent.
The 3-point attempts are going to be flying in this series, and a few hot shooting nights could go a long way towards determining who takes home the trophy.
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