The Connecticut Sun kept their season alive on Tuesday night with aover the Washington Mystics in Game 4 of the . Now, the series is all tied up at 2-2, and will return to Washington, D.C. for a winner-take-all Game 5 on Thursday night.
Ahead of what will be the final game of the season regardless of which way it goes, here's a look at everything you need to know about Game 5 of the 2019 WNBA Finals:
How to watch Connecticut Sun at Washington Mystics
- Date: Thursday, Oct. 10
- Time: 8 p.m. ET
- Location: Entertainment and Sports Arena -- Washington, D.C.
- TV: ESPN 2
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Live stats: GameTracker
- Odds: Mystics -6.5
How did we get here?
The Mystics and the Sun were the two best teams all season long, and finished first and second in the regular season, respectively. As a result, they each earned a bye to the semifinals, where the Mystics faced the Las Vegas Aces and the Sun took on the Los Angeles Sparks.
While most expected the Mystics to cruise and the Sun to struggle, the opposite came true. The Mystics won their series 3-1, but really had to work for it, with two of their wins coming by four points or less. As for the Sun, they swept aside a self-destructing Sparks team 3-0, winning all of their games comfortably, including two by 20-plus points.
In the Finals, the teams have traded victories, with the Mystics winning Games 1 and 3 and the Sun taking Games 2 and 4. All four games have followed a similar pattern, as the winning team has jumped out to a big lead after the first quarter, then hung on for the win. Making that trend even more interesting is the fact that the losing team has scored exactly 17 points in the first quarter in each game.
What's at stake?
Well, obviously the championship, first and foremost. The WNBA Finals are only a best-of-five series, so this is the last game no matter what. This is the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Finals have gone the distance, and the third time since the league changed the playoff format in 2016 to eliminate conferences from postseason relevance.
But this season's championship will have even more importance than usual, as neither the Mystics nor Sun have ever won a WNBA title before. The Mystics were swept by the Storm last season in their first appearance, while the Sun lost in both 2004 and 2005.
Furthermore, Kristi Toliver is the only player in this series who's won a title, which means a dozen players will win their first title, regardless of which team emerges victorious. That's an important accomplishment for anyone, but it means even more considering the legacies of some of the players in this series.
Elena Delle Donne, in particular, has accomplished just about everything you can in the WNBA besides winning a championship. While she'll still go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game regardless of whether or not she has a ring, getting one would certainly elevate her in the all-time discussion.
The Sun are a much younger team, but that same idea also applies to some of their budding stars such as Alyssa Thomas and Jonquel Jones. For them to lead their team to a title so early in their careers would be quite impressive.
Players to watch
Washington Mystics: Elena Delle Donne
Delle Donne was the MVP this season, and dominated Game 1 to lead the Mystics to victory. But in Game 2 she checked out after just a few minutes and didn't return due to what was later determined to be a. Despite the injury, she's battled through the pain to start both Games 3 and 4.
In Game 3, her presence clearly gave her teammates a huge lift, and they secured a crucial road win in Connecticut. But in Game 4, she wasn't nearly as effective. She managed to chip in 11 points and five rebounds, but the Mystics were destroyed when she was on the floor. They lost the game by just four points, but were minus-18 in her 30 minutes of play.
It will be fascinating to see how she does in Game 5. On the one hand, she's now a week removed from the injury, and may be feeling some relief. At the same time, this will be her third game in five days, with travel included. That's exhausting and draining for all players, but especially when you have a bad back.
Connecticut Sun: Jonquel Jones
Alyssa Thomas has been the Sun'sduring the Finals, and there's no question she's going to show up ready to play in Game 5. However, the player to watch for the Sun is Jones. The young center is their most talented player and their biggest presence inside. So far, she's been the key to this series. When she shows up and dominates in the paint, the Sun have won. When she shrinks into the background, they haven't.
Just check out these splits. In the Sun's two wins, Jones has averaged 25 points, 15.5 rebounds and two blocks. In their two losses, she's put up 10.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 0.5 blocks. Simply put, the Sun aren't winning this game if Jones doesn't play well make her presence felt around the basket.