A new champion will be crowned as a result of this year’s WNBA Finals. In fact, a first-time champion will be crowned as a result of this year’s WNBA Finals.
Both the Washington Mystics and Connecticut Sun have participated in WNBA Finals previously in their franchise histories, but both teams came up short previously. Something will have to give here.
Last season was Washington’s first appearance in the Finals, but they were swept by the Seattle Storm. Connecticut, ironically with Mike Thibault as coach, made the Finals in 2004 against the Storm and 2005 against the Sacramento Monarchs, but came up short both times.
This year’s Finals also presents an interesting contrast in terms of who the teams are. Washington is a team with a marquee name – this year’s MVP in Elena Delle Donne who is searching for the one item that has eluded her throughout her seven-year WNBA career – a WNBA championship. The Mystics with its powerful offense that includes Emma Meesseman, Natasha Cloud, LaToya Sanders, Aerial Powers, Ariel Atkins and a returning Kristi Toliver are a tough out for any team and typically make teams have to outscore them to beat them.
As for Connecticut, coached by Curt Miller, they are the team that evokes memories of the 2004 Detroit Pistons club that thrashed the Los Angeles Lakers in that season’s NBA Finals. Larry Brown’s Pistons that year had names such as Rasheed Wallace, Ben Wallace, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince and Chauncey Billups going up against Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton and Karl Malone. The Sun are a great team without any “superstar” names such as Alyssa Thomas, Jasmine Thomas, Courtney Williams, Jonquel Jones, Shekinna Stricklen and Rachel Banham.
The Mystics will enter the Finals as the favorite, but the Sun actually won the regular season series against Washington 2-1. Both of Connecticut’s victories were at Mohegan Sun Arena, though and the Mystics will have the home court if the series goes to a Game 5.
Saturday May 25: Sun win 84-69 in Connecticut
Ironically, these two teams first met to open the regular season. It was a 15-point win for Connecticut and 23 of those points came from Alyssa Thomas with another 13 from Jasmine Thomas. Jonquel Jones hauled in 14 rebounds that game with another eight coming from Alyssa Thomas. Jasmine Thomas also dished out six assists.
The Mystics were also without Elena Delle Donne this game. Emma Meesseman was the Mystics’ leading scorer with 14 and six rebounds. Kristi Toliver and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough each had 11 Ariel Atkins had 10. LaToya Sanders finished with nine rebounds, Walker-Kimbrough contributed eight and Cloud sent out eight assists.
Tuesday June 11: Sun win 83-75 in Connecticut
Washington had EDD back for this one (she had 13 points, six rebounds and four assists), but the two-headed scoring monster that was Jones (24) and Williams (23) was a big difference in Connecticut’s victory.
Shekinna Stricklen also scored 12 points on four of eight shooting (all from behind the arc). Alyssa Thomas had 12 rebounds with Jones and Williams contributing seven each. Jasmine Thomas also had six assists.
Ariel Atkins had 18 points for the Mystics. Cloud scored 12 points and dished out eight assists. Sanders had eight rebounds to complement Delle Donne’s six.
Saturday June 29: Mystics win 102-59 in Washington
The last time these two teams met was very different from the previous two as the Mystics thrashed the Sun by a 102-59 final.
Connecticut only had one player that scored in double-digits for points – Jonquel Jones who had 15. The Mystics had six who did so, including Delle Donne (19), Atkins (15), Toliver (14), Powers (13), Tianna Hawkins (12), and Walker-Kimbrough (11).
Delle Donne also had 10 rebounds, Sanders had nine and Walker-Kimbrough brought in six. Cloud sent out six more assists with Toliver contributing five.