2019 WNBA Preview — Connecticut Sun (9-3) at Washington Mystics (8-3)

While it may be a message game if the Connecticut Sun complete a season sweep of the Washington Mystics on Saturday in a matchup of the league’s best teams, the Sun are also looking to avoid a third straight loss.

Connecticut (9-3) still has the best record in the WNBA but is coming off a 74-73 defeat to the Dallas Wings on Wednesday night. Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 28 points, but the Sun were unable to hold on late after erasing a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit.

Jasmine Thomas added 19 points and 11 assists but Connecticut’s perimeter game struggled, hitting just 5 of 17 from 3-point range as top outside threat Shekinna Stricklen tried only one 3-pointer.

“I’m proud of our effort to fight back from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter, it showed a lot of grit,” Sun coach Curt Miller told the team’s official Twitter account. “Led by Alyssa Thomas and Jasmine Thomas … to put us in that position to potentially send it to overtime to win that game. But we dug ourselves a hole in that first half, dug ourselves a hole going into the fourth quarter, so as well as we played in the fourth, (we were) a little short.”

Stricklen has been a bellwether of sorts for Connecticut – in the Sun’s three losses she has totaled four points on 2-of-16 shooting while going 0 for 9 from beyond the arc. During Connecticut’s recent seven-game winning streak, she made 28 of 53 (52.8 percent) from 3-point range while averaging 14.6 points.

Jonquel Jones continues to lead the WNBA in rebounding at 11.0 per contest and is fifth in scoring at 16.4 points per game. Alyssa Thomas, who has averaged 14 points and 10 rebounds in Connecticut’s two wins over the Mystics, has recorded a pair of 20-point games in her last four contests, upping her scoring average to 12.8 points.

Connecticut’s stumbles have made Washington (8-3) the hottest team in the WNBA as it seeks a fifth straight victory. The Mystics continued their mastery of Chicago with an 81-74 road victory Wednesday night, improving to 8-0 against the Sky since acquiring Elena Delle Donne from Chicago in 2017.

Delle Donne had 22 points and seven rebounds as Washington completed a sweep of its four-game road trip. The star guard is fourth in the WNBA in scoring (17.0) and fifth in rebounding (8.8), pacing a Mystics offense that leads the league in scoring at 85.5 points and 3-pointers (8.5) per game.

Delle Donne has recorded three straight games of at least 20 points and seven rebounds but was held to 13 points in Washington’s 83-75 loss at Connecticut on June 11. She did not play in the season-opening 84-69 loss to the Sun due to knee soreness.

“Part of it was their defense, and part of it was our aggressiveness,” Mystics coach Mike Thibault told The Washington Post about Delle Donne being held to nine shot attempts in the loss earlier this month. “I think we learned that we beat teams like that by having our best players with the ball in their hands a lot. … Certain plays you’ve got to make sure — we go two or three times down the court and she doesn’t touch it, that’s probably not a good formula for us.”

The Mystics are 3-1 at their new home, the Entertainment Sports Arena, averaging 89.0 points and outscoring opponents by 15 per contest. The Sun are fourth in the league in scoring defense, yielding 74.9 points per game, but are holding opponents to a league-low 28.5 percent shooting from 3-point range.

(Mystics group photo courtesy Washington Mystics official Twitter account)

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