They might be the top-two seeded teams in the WNBA this year, but the Washington Mystics appear to be the favorite to emerge victorious over the Connecticut Sun in the Finals.
Being underdogs doesn’t seem to bother the Sun, evidenced by the “disrespeCT” campaign that appears to have driven them throughout the postseason. And some writers over at The Athletic believe Connecticut has a real shot at taking home the trophy.
What do they think will give the Sun the edge? Depth, drive, defense and much more.
Here’s what the three writers had to say:
Molly Yanity — Sun over Mystics, 3-2: “I may be the only sportswriter in the WNBA universe to predict the upset, but I’m doing it because it really isn’t a far-fetched idea. There are two reasons why:
“One, “desire” stats. The ability to rebound and defend come, in large part, from one’s desire to do it. While everyone involved wants to win, the Sun’s laser focus on winning the WNBA championship is blindingly evident in their willingness to crash the boards and smother offensive players. While the Mystics have shot better than the Sun this postseason (45.7 to 41.7 percent), the Mystics have actually missed more shots because of the volume of shots taken. And, well, you saw what Connecticut did to the Sparks on the boards. Expect a five-person Sun assault on the boards at every shot attempt. While the tandem of Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman poses a major defensive challenge, Jonquel Jones and Alyssa Thomas will get the job done. At this point, I put nothing past AT; the woman is on a mission and nowhere is it more obvious than when she plays defense.
“Two, the underdog role. It suits Connecticut. With a home in a casino in the middle of nowhere and lacking the big-city media buzz and (apparently) any “superstars,” the Sun proved with a semifinals sweep that they’re serious contenders. ESPN analysts called them role players. Many wrote them off in the semifinals. And, well, they just keep winning.”
Erica Ayala — Sun over Mystics, 3-2: “I originally had the Mystics winning it all over Vegas, but with that series over and done, it’s time to reset expectations. I’ve always asserted if the Sun can find their way to a series, they can hang with the best of them. Neither home court is going to be easy for the visitors, but with our first-ever East Coast Final, I am curious to see how the fanbases travel.”
“This will come down to defense. I think Connecticut will try to run and gun, like Las Vegas did against D.C. The Aces were at their best when they didn’t allow the Mystics to get set. They fell in Game 4 because they didn’t do well on defensive switches. The Mystics have great ball movement, but so do the Sun.
“Furthermore, I think the Sun will win the defensive and turnover game. They are a team that can force the Mystics to make mistakes. It will be an absolute battle with each franchise’s first-ever championship on the line. What a time to be covering the WNBA!”
Hannah Withiam — Sun over Mystics, 3-2: “Just when you think this Sun team has reached its ceiling, they pull another rabbit out of the hat. A three-game sweep of the star-powered Sparks? Who saw that coming? They’re playing playoff-level basketball. It could be because of the versatility of coach Curt Miller’s coaching schemes, as Molly Yanity has detailed; it could be because of Courtney Williams’ unbridled energy and playoff average of 19 points per game; it could be their chemistry and determination to show the two-straight one-game playoff exits were flukes. If the Sun use their defensive depth to throw different looks at Elena Delle Donne and Emma Meesseman, and dominate the boards, Mohegan Sun Arena will be rocking even harder in October.”
Now, the Sun certainly have their doubters. Six of nine writers selected the Mystics to defeat the Sun, some in as few as four games. But this isn’t the first time the Sun has been doubted, and it clearly serves as fuel to their fire when they step onto the court.
Game 1 of the WNBA Finals tips off Sunday at 3 p.m. ET at Entertainment and Sports Arena in Washington D.C.