UGHHHHHHHHHHHHH It happened again. Elena Delle Donne played just 3 minutes and 28 seconds in the Mystics’ 99-87 loss to the Connecticut Sun. She left the game with back spasms and never came back. The MVP has now never played in a Finals without an injury. It’s stunning, disheartening, and infuriating for us. I can’t imagine what she is going through. However, the Mystics didn’t fold in this game without their leader. They made it tight throughout, but Connecticut didn’t trail after the first few minutes. Let’s take a closer look at what happened in this game outside of Delle Donne’s injury.
Jonquel Jones got hers
After Game 1, a lot of the talk surrounded Jonquel Jones not getting enough touches. It felt like the entire Sun organization committed to getting her the ball more. Well, it turns that they didn’t need to give her the ball because she was going to get it on her own.
Jonquel put up 32 points and 18 rebounds. I’m going to type that again. SHE HAD 32 POINTS AND 18 REBOUNDS. Is that real? No player ever put up 32 points and 18 boards in the WNBA Finals. Just an incredible game for the Sun’s All-Star Center.
Jonquel did a lot of her damage on the offensive glass with 9 offensive rebounds. That is the most ever in the Finals, the most by any player in the Playoffs and tied for the most in the regular season. Jones did a great job establishing position under the basket whether Emma Meesseman, Tianna Hawkins, or Latoya Sanders covered her. She has the catch radius of Odell Beckham, Jr. and was able to grab the basketball wherever it bounced.
As Connecticut Head Coach Curt Miller said after the game, Jonquel’s offense really feeds off those rebounds. She would grab them and go right up for easy layups. 10 of her 13 field goals came in the paint. In short, Jonquel was a beast of epic and record-setting proportions in Game 2.
Can Courtney Williams only play Playoff games?
Courtney Williams is always entertaining and an amazing basketball player. But her 2019 playoff performances are on another level. In Game 3, she put up 22 points, 6 assists, and 3 rebounds for the Sun. She also talked her shit.
Talk ya shit C @CourtMWilliams
— WSLAM (@wslam) October 2, 2019
Williams is a gunslinger and she’s not missing much these days. In the regular season, Williams shoot 43.5% from the field on 12.5 attempts per game and 45.7% from three on just 1.5 attempts. Playoffs Court is now shooting 18.4 shots a game and more than tripled her attempts from deep to 4.8. At the same time, she has increased her shooting percentages.
Courtney did a lot of her damage attacking switches in the pick and roll. When the Mystics tried to switch, she would shake the big or split the defenders to get a bucket. When Washington tried to fight through the screen, she pulled up from three or got to her spot at the nail for a jumper.
The performance was outstanding. But Courtney Williams is an action hero so for her, it was just another day at the office.
“I think I was doing the same thing that I always do,” said Williams postgame, wearing a mesh camo vest. “Taking my shots, my teammates was finding me, my teammates was setting great screens for me, so I was just taking my shots. I stay confident when I shoot the ball.”
I don’t know what to do when Courtney is on like this. DC just has to hope she misses shots. With as much swag and confidence as she has right now, that doesn’t seem like a good proposition.
Bench squad stepping up for DC
Obviously, a lot of things went wrong for Washington. Delle Donne went out, their defense couldn’t get stops down the stretch, the team’s guards had rough nights, and they got boarded to hell. But the Mystics can take solace that their bench players can step up if EDD is out going forward.
Emma Meesseman led the bench group as she has most of the year and this series. Emma had 23 points on 10 of 17 shooting. She did her best to fill in for EDD not only in terms of production, but in terms of role. She became the primary pick setter and created her own shot when she needed to. Emma has been amazing in the playoffs and she will have to continue to be so without the MVP. Meesseeman will need to shoot from three better (just 1 of 5 in Game 3) and get her body on the Sun’s bigs when rebounding.
Tianna Hawkins had the most surprising performance of the night. The Maryland product had 16 points on 6 of 8 shooting and 3 of 4 from deep to go with 6 boards. If Meesseman took over EDD’s role, Hawk took over Emma’s role. She popped out after setting screens and stretched out Connecticut’s defense.
Aerial Powers catalyzed DC’s 3rd quarter run to tie the game. She did what she has done all year: provide energy and speed. As soon as Powers came in, the team started swarming Connecticut’s offense. She also brought the house down with a nasty inside-out dribble to freeze Sheekina Stricklen and get an And-One.
Aerial Powers, AND ONE. pic.twitter.com/4OsLiqHQNq
— Dime (@DimeUPROXX) October 2, 2019
The crowd absolutely lost their mind. It was the loudest I have heard the stadium all season. The bench’s effort came in a losing effort, but it’s still encouraging for Washington.
I have no clue what is going to happen next
Legitimately no idea. First and foremost, Elena Delle Donne’s health will remain unknown for at least a day or two. This is the second consecutive Finals where EDD’s health has played a major factor. It sucks, especially when this issue with her back seemingly came out of nowhere.
Delle Donne didn’t join her teammates during or after the game as she got treatment. I will take that as an encouraging sign because it means that the training staff and/or EDD felt that she could potentially get back in the game. We’re grasping at straws here. Let’s just hope that the MVP is back on the court for Game 3.
But the series is also unpredictable because of the team’s performances. The Sun aren’t going to get 17 offensive rebounds in Game 3. They probably won’t shoot 50% from the field or 42% from 3. On the flip side, the Mystics will likely shoot better. Just returning to the mean for both teams will change the series.
The two coaches in this series are among the best in the league with two excellent teams. It seems that every adjustment is having a big impact. For example, Washington’s guards committed to helping on the glass and pressure in the second half, which led to a DC run. The series will continue to be a chess match between the coaches and will remain unpredictable because of it.